Delhi Police has confiscated the passports and other travel documents of nearly 700 foreign associates of the Tablighi Jamaatamid the coronavirus lockdown. The police took this action immediately after these people completed their period of quarantine in different isolation wards.
These foreigners had joined the Tablighi event at the Nizamuddin Markaz during the lockdown. The police team investigating the case will interrogate them.
Thousands of people associated with the Tablighi Jamaat have recently completed their quarantine.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government had last week directed the district magistrates to release 2,446 members of the Tablighi Jamaat from the segregated isolation centres, implying that everyone was allowed to go home, no matter what state they belonged to.
But the foreigners who had attended the Nizamuddin Markaz were handed over to the police. There were 567 of them. There are 120 odd other Tablighi foreigners whose passports and other travel documents have been seized.
A government official had said, “We are handing over the foreign Tablighis to the police in relation to various violations of law like visa violations.”
Last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had blacklisted 960 foreign Tablighi followers in the country for flouting visa norms. These people were present in India on tourist visas but involved in the activities of the jamāt.
Passports and travel documents of these Tablighi foreigners being confiscated, they cannot leave for their respective countries of origin. The police will ask these Tablighi associates whether they had prolonged their stay in India at the markaz and in the other places they went to under a conspiracy.
The MHA had last month instructed the DGPs of all states and union territories and the Delhi police commissioner to take necessary legal action against such violators, on priority, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Disaster Management Act, 2005.
On 31 March, Delhi Police’s Crime Branch had lodged an FIR against seven persons, including absconding Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad, on a complaint by Station House Officer of Nizamuddin police station for holding the assembly, violating the orders against large gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.
On 5 May, the Crime Branch had interrogated alleged money-launderer Saad’s son, seeking details of 20 people who had attended the event.
The Delhi High Court today heard a petition related to Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad Khandalvi. The petitioner had requested that the case be handed over to the National Investigation Agency. However, Delhi Police objected to this and said the investigation was progressing well.