NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has initiated blacklisting proceedings against 360 more foreign Tablighi Jamaat members who have already left India after allegedly carrying out “missionary” activities here on a ‘tourist’ visa.
The action — which will debar them from entry into India for next two years — comes a day after home minister Amit Shah announced the government’s decision to blacklist and cancel the tourist visas of 960 foreign Tablighi workers found involved in proselytising activities here in violation of their visa conditions.
The 960 — who belong to more than 41 countries — will also face legal action by the police of the respective states where they are present, under the Foreigners Act and Disaster Management Act. Foreigners Act imposes a financial penalty of 500 US dollars on foreigners indulging in Tabligh activities while on a tourist visa, apart from providing for their deportation.
Of the 960 blacklisted foreigners linked to Tabligh Jamaat who are present in India, the maximum are nationals of Indonesia (379), followed by Bangladesh (110), Kyrgyzstan (77), Malaysia (75), Myanmar (63), Sri Lanka (33) and Iran (24). Interestingly, six are from People’s Republic of China, 9 from the UK and 4 from the US.
Around 1,306 foreign members linked to Tablighi Jamaat and 7,866 Indian Tabligh participants and their contacts had been identified as on April 1 across several states for necessary action involving their COVID-19 screening, quarantine and hospitalisation.
A source said that given that a tourist visa has a validity of six months, there may be more foreign Tabligh members who are in India from a time when Covid-19 restrictions had not yet kicked in.
Sources in one state government told TOI that legal action is being considered against failure of the 960 blacklisted foreigners to report to the local superintendent of police (or foreign registration officer) upon arrival in the district and also the failure of authorities at their place of stay to maintain a register of such visitors.
With many foreign Tablighi members now under mandatory quarantine, they are likely to be deported, after being fined 500 US dollars, as and when international flights resume. They may also be kept in detention centres if there is a gap between completion of their quarantine period and resumption of international flights.
“At this stage there is no question of deportation….as and when deportation will take place, it will be as per standard health protocol,” MHA joint secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said on Friday.
Sources said states may not be too keen to try the blacklisted foreigners under the Disaster Management Act which provides for a maximum two years in jail for one who does not follow an order issued by a due authority under the Act. “This will entail unnecessary burden on our resources as they have to be tried and a conviction secured,” said an officer.