New Delhi, May 26,2020: As many as 960 foreigners, members of the Tablighi Jamaat, who came to India on tourist and e-visas, are liable to face jail term of up to five years, Delhi Police have asserted in the High Court.
Submitting the status report on a clutch of petitions to release the foreigners, the Delhi Police pointed out that 960 foreigners violated the conditions of their visas by joining the religious congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin, and are hence culpable for prosecution under Section 14 of the Indian Foreigners Act, 1946 News18 reported.
"That participation in Tablighi Jamaat by these foreign nationals, who had entered India on Tourist Visa, was in violation of the provisions of the Visa Manual 2019 and as such the act made them liable to be prosecuted under Section 14 of The Foreigners Act, 1946," maintained the status report filed by DCP (Crime) Joy Tirkey.
Section 14 provides for penalty for contravention of provisions of the Act, and prescribes a jail term of maximum five years.
Citing the Visa Manual, the Delhi Police told the High Court that a tourist visa is meant only for visiting India for recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, attending a short term yoga programme, short duration medical treatment, including treatment under Indian systems of medicine etc., and no other purpose or activity.
"Visa shall NOT be granted to preachers and evangelists who desire to come to India on propaganda campaigns, whether on their own or at the invitation of any organization in India (sic)," highlighted the status report, corroborating the foreigners have breached the conditions of their entry and stay in India.
The police added that on April 2, the Ministry of Home Affairs blacklisted 960 foreigners, present in India on tourist visas, for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities.
"Further, the MHA had also directed DGPs of all concerned states/UTs and CP, Delhi Police to take necessary legal action against all such violators, on priority, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Disaster Management Act, 2005," it stated.
Opposing the release of the foreigners without directly saying it, the Delhi Police submitted in the HC that nobody has been arrested so far or has been detained in connection with the FIR lodged for the Markaz congregation at Nizamuddin in February-March.
The Delhi Police added that the FIR, registered under penal charges of attempt to commit culpable homicide and provisions of the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act, is being investigated on a day-to-day basis so that a final report can be submitted in the trial court as soon as possible.
The report also blamed Jamaat leader Maulana Mohd Saad, saying he had allowed a huge gathering to assemble inside a closed premises, over a protracted period of time, without any semblance of social distancing or provision of masks and sanitizers and thereby caused a situation where Covid-19 may spread and threaten the lives of the inmates and the general public at large.
"The menace and hazard of Covid-19 viral infection during large gatherings was verbally conveyed to Maulana Mohd. Saad and the management of Markaz on several occasions, including during meetings held in the police station in this regard...They deliberately, wilfully, negligently and malignantly disobeyed the lawful directions promulgated in this regard. Written notices were also issued to
Maulana Mohd. Saad and the Markaz Management. However, they refused to pay any heed," lamented the Delhi Police report.
The High Court will take up the matter on May 28 on a plea by the petitioners to shift them from institutional quarantine to an alternate accommodation.