Various state governments had provided the government with details of the foreigners who were found to be illegally living in mosques and religious seminaries across the country.

Foreign nationals from Indonesia who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event at Markaz Nizamuddin in mid-March taken to jail PTI file image
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, June 04, 2020 - 18:27
Written by  PTI

The Home Ministry has blacklisted 2,550 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members who were staying in India during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown in violation of visa rules, and they would not be allowed to enter the country for 10 years, officials said on Thursday.

The action has been taken by the home ministry after various state governments provided details of the foreigners who were found to be illegally living in mosques and religious seminaries across the country.

The home ministry has blacklisted 2,550 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members and banned their entry into India for 10 years, a home ministry official said.

Action against the foreign Tablighi Jamaat members was first taken after over 2,300 people, including 250 foreigners, belonging to the Islamic organisation were found to be living at its headquarters located at Delhi's Nizamuddin soon after the nation-wide lockdown was announced in March. Several of these members had tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had last week stated that it has registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against the organisers of the Tablighi Jamaat.

According to CBI sources, the agency registered a PE against the organisers of Tablighi Jamaat and other unknown persons on a complaint alleging that the organisers and the trustees of the organisation were indulging into dubious foreign funding and cash transactions by illegal or unfair means.

The sources also said that the Tablighi Jamaat also did not disclose receipt of foreign funds to authorities. The PE has been registered to probe the funds received in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). In April this year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had registered a money laundering case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Jamaat chief Maulana Saad, trusts linked to Tablighi Jamaat and others.

The ED has worked on the finances and transactions of the Tablighi Jamaat and its office bearers and has obtained various documents from banks and financial intelligence gathering agencies. The case was filed by the agency on the basis of an FIR registered by the Delhi Police.

The action by the CBI comes a day after the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police filed 12 fresh chargesheets naming 541 foreign nationals in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat case. The chargesheets containing 12,000 pages were filed before Metropolitan Magistrate Tanya Bemniwal, who set June 29 as date for further hearing.

By now, the Crime Branch has named more than 900 foreign nationals in the case. They have been charged under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and also for violating the prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). They have also been charged for visa rules violation. The government has cancelled their visa and blacklisted them.

The case pertains to a religious congregation at Banglewali Masjid in Delhi's Hazrat Nizamuddin on March 13 in which a large number of foreign nationals had participated. The Delhi Police registered an FIR in this regard on March 31.

(With IANS inputs)