NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry on Thursday blacklisted and cancelled the ‘tourist’ visas of 960 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members for violating visa conditions by engaging in “missionary” activities here.
Home minister Amit Shah tweeted that states and Union Territories where these foreigners are present have been asked to take necessary legal action under the Foreigners Act, which sources said was likely to involve their deportation after payment of a $500 penalty, as well as under the Disaster Management Act.
The blacklisting order will debar them from entering India for at least two years. Sources said that the 960 could be deported as and when they complete the quarantine/hospitalisation period and international flights resume. In case international flights are not available at the end of the quarantine period, they may be shifted to detention centres.
While the Disaster Management Act provides for imprisonment of up to one year or fine for violation of an order issued by due authority, which can further extend to to two years’ jail if such violation results in loss of lives, it was not clear if this clause will be invoked. “Why bear the unnecessary burden of putting them on trial here,” said one officer.
Sources said that the Tablighi Jamaat authorities will henceforth be told to strictly maintain a register of all foreign visitors along with their passport and visa details as well as activities undertaken by them.