Cases on foreign Tablighis entail long process: experts

Members who attended the Delhi event being taken to a quarantine facility in Ahmedabad on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asking States to register criminal cases against foreign members of the Tablighi Jamaat could prolong their stay in India by up to five years.

On April 3, Joint Secretary MHA Punya Salila Srivastava reiterated that States have been asked to register cases against 960 blacklisted foreigners and at “this stage the question of deportation does not arise” but whenever it happens it will be done as per health protocols.

Police quandry

Police in different States are divided on registering cases against the foreign members under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, punishable by up to two years and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946, punishable by up to five years.

Several police officers The Hindu spoke to said there was no point in arresting the foreigners as their visas have been cancelled, they have been blacklisted, and as per legal requirements they would have to be deported as soon as they are fit to leave the quarantine centres.

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According to a MHA statement, from January 1, about 2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi activities. Among those blacklisted are 360 foreigners linked to Tablighi who have already left India.

The 960 blacklisted foreigners who are in presently in India include four Americans, nine British, six Chinese, three French, 379 Indonesian, 110 Bangladeshi, 63 Myanmarese, 77 Kyrgiz, 75 Malaysian, 65 Thai, 33 Sri Lankan, 12 Vietnamese and nine Saudi Arabian nationals.

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Officers in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police, however, insisted that the foreign workers will be arrested and sent to jail. The police in Delhi report directly to the MHA and Uttar Pradesh is ruled by the BJP. Uttar Pradesh Police has registered 35 cases in 15 districts under Section 14 of Foreigners Act against the foreign Tablighi members.

Common FIR

A senior Delhi Police officer told The Hindu that a common FIR has been registered regarding the congregation at Markaz (centre) in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in March and any future arrests will be made under it.

Police in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra — the States where the foreigners dispersed to from the Nizamuddin Markaz in March, have not registered any case so far.

A senior police officer in M.P said the police has located about 68 foreign Tablighis in and around Bhopal and they had been placed in a quarantine.

“If MHA has cancelled their visa and they are in quarantine then we cannot register any case against them. Due to the ongoing lockdown they have not committed any crime. The legal process is to deport them as soon as they leave the quarantine after all medical check ups,” said the officer.

A Tamil Nadu police officer said 125 foreigners traced in the State have been quarantined in mosques and few who showed symptoms have been shifted to hospitals. “They will be served ‘leave India notice’ after they come out of the quarantine; maybe cases can be registered against those who provide them logistic help,” he added.

Former Uttar Pradesh DGP Prakash Singh said if their visas are cancelled then they should be deported as soon as possible.

“Government should give priority in deporting them and getting rid of them….registering a case means that trial might go on for years. It is essentially for public consumption that government is taking harsh measures,” Mr. Singh said.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 10:57:19 AM |

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