New Delhi: The Delhi Police are in the process of shifting 567 Tablighi Jamaat members, who had come to India from Indonesia, Malaysia, France and the US, to “makeshift detention centres” as they have completed their quarantine period, ThePrint has learnt.
These foreigners, who have been booked under Section 14 of The Foreigners Act for allegedly violating visa conditions, will be investigated and then tried for the crime.
A foreigner, who wants to take part in religious activity in India, is required to come on a missionary visa. If one travels on a tourist visa and then participates in religious activities, it is illegal and a clear case of visa violation.
A source in the government told ThePrint after these foreigners are investigated, their cases will go on trial, following which they will be handed over to the Foreigner Regional Registration Office for deportation. Until then, they will stay in the makeshift centres, the source said.
Places for detention centres identified
The Delhi Police have already identified a few places where the centres will come up. These include a few schools and community centres in outer Delhi. The police have also taken travel documents of all the foreigners.
“We will soon be shifting them at one place to ensure their safety until their proceedings are on,” a senior police officer told ThePrint.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had in early April blacklisted 960 foreigners and cancelled their tourist visas after they were found to be involved in Tablighi Jamaat activities in violation of their visa conditions.
The Tablighi Jamaat, a non-political global Sunni Islamic evangelical movement of Indian origin, was widely criticised for holding a congregation of over 3,000 people, including both Indians and foreigners, over a period of three days in March in Nizamuddin mosque.
The congregation emerged as the “largest known viral vector” of the novel coronavirus in South Asia, with hundreds of positive cases of Covid-19 in the region being linked to it.
Process of deportation to be expedited
Sources in the government told ThePrint the process to deport these foreign nationals will be expedited so that they do not remain in India.
“For how long can we keep them here in India, and that too in such times of crisis. It is better that the investigation and legal formalities are completed soon and they are deported to their home countries,” the government source mentioned above said.
“If they stay here, it will be an added responsibility and we need to make sure that they do not roam around unnecessarily, which can be risky,” the source added.
Sources also told ThePrint the police are now working on filing a chargesheet in the case so the trial can begin.
“The chargesheet will be filed soon and the trial will begin. Maybe the judge can visit these centres, instead of calling so many of them to the court, and hear the matter. If this can be done, then over 100-200 foreigners can be heard in a day and the process can be expedited,” a second source said.
“All these options are being considered just to ensure that they can be sent back home at the earliest,” the source added.
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