Delhi Police on Tuesday filed 20 charge sheets against 82 foreign nationals belonging to 20 different countries following its investigation so far into the event organised by the Tablighi Jamaat at its markaz (centre) in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in March.
More than 900 foreign nationals who are accused in this case belong to 34 different countries. Delhi Police filed the charge sheets under Sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946, The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, The Disaster Management Act, 2005, and sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The status report submitted by DCP Crime Joy Tirkey says the passports and the copies of the visa application forms of these foreign participants at the congregation show that they had obtained tourist visas or e-visas to come to India.
So far, more than 900 foreign Tablighi Jamaat attendees have joined the investigation. They had been served notices under 41(A) to ensure their appearance before the police.
The Crime Branch of Delhi Police submitted the charge sheets, running to 15,499 pages, in the afternoon before duty magistrate Saema Jamil at the Saket court. The court is expected to decide on cognizance of the charge sheets on 12 June.
A charge sheet is a document that mentions charges and evidence collected against people accused of committing an offence. The court starts a trial only after taking cognisance of the charge sheet.
The 82 foreigners against whom Delhi Police filed the charge sheet are from 20 different countries. They comprise 14 Fijians, 10 Saudi Arabians, eight Algerians and seven Brazilians and Chinese each, six Sudanese and as many Filipinos, five Americans, and four Afghans.
Delhi Police filed charge sheets also against two Australians, two Kazakhs, two Moroccans and two British nationals and a Ukrainian, an Egyptian, a Russian, a Belgian, a Jordanian, a French and a Tunisian. Delhi Police booked them all under Section 14 (b) of the Foreigners Act, Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 51 of the Disaster Management Act and four Sections of the Indian Penal Code, 188, 269, 270 and 271, for violating visa conditions, lockdown rules, spreading the virus, and breaking quarantine rule, Delhi Police said in a statement.
“These foreign nationals had entered India on tourist visa and had participated in the Markaz illegally. In addition to violating the provisions of visa, these foreign nationals also led to a situation where a highly infectious disease such as COVID-19 infection spread and threatened the lives of the inmates and the general public at large,” the police statement read.
The punishment for various offences under the penal provisions ranges from six months to eight years of imprisonment.
The police have interrogated more than 900 foreign nationals belonging to 34 different countries in connection with the case of visa rule violation after they attended the religious congregation despite having entered the country on a tourist visa, the conditions of which prohibits the visa holder from engaging in any missionary activities, crime branch officials associated with the probe said.
“The charge sheets have been filed against 82 foreigners since there were enough evidence against them. Charge sheets are being prepared against other foreign nationals, who are accused in the case, country-wise. The remaining charge sheets will be submitted in the next few days,” said a senior crime branch official, requesting anonymity.
The authorities evacuated more than 2,300 people, including foreigners, from the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in March-end and sent them to various quarantine facilities in Delhi. Many other foreigners were found staying in different religious and residential buildings across the city.