960 Tablighi foreigners blacklisted, visas cancelled by MHA

New Delhi: People who showed coronavirus symptoms being taken to various hospitals from Nizamuddin area in New Delhi, Monday, March 30, 2020. The police took around 200 such people to the hospital as they participated in a religious congregation at a mosque, few days back. (PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary) (PTI30-03-2020_000230B)

New Delhi: The government on Thursday blacklisted 960 foreigners and cancelled their visas after finding that they were involved in Tablighi Jamaat activities violating their visa conditions.

The Home Minister’s Office asked Delhi Police and police chiefs of other states, where these foreigners are currently living, to take legal action against them under the Foreigners Act and the Disaster Management Act.

“The Home Ministry has blacklisted 960 foreigners and their Indian visas have also been cancelled for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities while coming on tourist visas,” the home minister’s office tweeted in Hindi.

Action against the foreign Tablighi Jamaat members was taken after over 2,300 activists, including 250 foreigners, of the Islamic organisation were found to be living at its headquarters located at Delhi’s Nizamuddin despite the 21 days lockdown.

More than 300 of these Tablighi Jamaat activists were tested positive for COVID-19 while others were put in different quarantine centres.

At least 9,000 people had participated at a congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz last month and after that many of them have travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works.

So far, a total of about 400 COVID-19 cases and about 12 deaths in the country were found to have links with the Nizamuddin Markaz.

The Home Ministry on Tuesday had said that about 2,100 foreigners had come to India since January 1 and indulged in Tablighi activities in different parts of the country.

On Thursday the ministry said over 1,300 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists, including those from the US, France and Italy, have been identified in different parts of the country and most of them have been put in quarantine.

Most of these foreigners came to India on a tourist visa, which prohibits the involvement of any religious activities.

The government has also decided not to issue a tourist visa to any foreigner who wishes to visit India and take part in Tablighi activities.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba had also told states and UTs to take action against foreigners, who participated in the missionary activities of the Tablighi Jamaat, for violation of visa conditions.