Nearly 960 foreigners, members of the Tablighi Jamaat, who flew to India on tourist and e-visas, are now liable to face jail term of up to five years, Delhi Police said in the High Court.
The Delhi Police said that the foreigners violated conditions of their visas by attending the religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin, and are therefore culpable for prosecution under Section 14 of the Indian Foreigners Act, 1946 which prescribes a jail term of maximum five years.
"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," the status report filed by DCP (Crime) Joy Tirkey read.
Referring to 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)," read the report.
This comes after the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 2 had blacklisted 960 foreigners for their presence at the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.
"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," the police said, clarifying that nobody has been arrested in connection with the Markaz congregation at Nizamuddin so far.
The report also held Jamaat leader Maulana Mohd. Saad responsible for allowing a huge gathering to assemble inside a closed premises, without following any social distancing norms or provision of masks and sanitizers.
"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," the Delhi Police wrote in the report submitted to the High Court.