2,300 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members who took part in Delhi religious event barred from entering India for 10 years | India News

NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has blacklisted around 2,300 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members and barred their re-entry into India for 10 years in view of their participation earlier in the outfit’s religious activities across several states in violation of their ‘tourist‘ visa conditions.
The foreign TJ members‘ religious preaching sessions across the country in March — which required them to hold a missionary visa and not tourist visa — had ended up as major hotspots for Covid-19 spread in several parts of the country.
A home ministry source told TOI that while nearly 2,300 foreign Tablighi workers — who continue to be in the country with many of them facing prospects of legal action for violation of visa and reporting rules, as also under the Disaster Management Act — were blacklisted until May 25, the numbers may have gone up further to around 2,500 now. The highest number of those blacklisted are from Indonesia, followed by Bangladesh and Malaysia. Since international passenger flights are yet to resume and legal action pending against foreign TJ members, the 10-year blacklisting provision will kick in once they leave India. They are also likely to be fined up to $500 for violation of ‘tourist’ visa norms.
A source said grant of visa to a foreign national being a country’s sovereign power and since denial of a visa cannot be challenged in the courts, the home ministry can bar the entry of a foreigner who has violated visa conditions for any duration of time it deems fit. “Like some Sikhs linked to pro-Khalistan protests, remained blacklisted for decades. In the case of foreign TJ workers, we have barred them for 10 years now and will revisit our position if they re-apply for a visa after 10 years,” an officer said but did not rule out the possibility of their being denied a visa for longer.
From the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters at Nizamuddin itself, more than 2,000 members of the outfit, including over 200 foreign nationals, were evacuated in March end, many of whom were found to be Covid-19 positive. Similarly, many states they had travelled to for religious preaching sessions also found a TJ link for a majority of their Covid-19 cases while carrying out contact-tracing.
The home ministry had earlier said that around 2,100 foreign Tablighi Jamaat workers had entered India since January 1, 2020. More that 25,000 TJ workers around the country were identified and placed under quarantine. In April itself, 960 foreigners linked to TJ were blacklisted.
A tourist visa entitles a foreign national to a stay of 180 days in India but only for purposes that include recreation, sight-seeing, visiting relatives or friends or a short-term yoga course or medical. Such foreigners cannot indulge in religious preaching or sermons, which are permitted only for those holding a “missionary” visa.

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