The Kerala government on Wednesday froze its earlier decision to deport a Jewish couple staying in Kochi since March 2010 on charges of violating visa regulations. However,the man,a rabbi,has been prevented from conducting religious services in the Jewish Synagogue in Kochi pending clarifications about the purpose of their visit.
Subsequent to a quit notice served on them last week by the Ernakulam district administration,Shneor Zalman Bernstein and his wife Yaffa Shendi Keing,from Jerusalem,had approached the Kerala High Court,which told the government on Tuesday to hear the couple and then take appropriate decision. The couple had pleaded that the government had not heard their side before slapping the notices.
On February 7,the district administration served notices that they should quit the country within 15 days,following a police report that said the couple had violated visa regulations. The police said the couple had conducted service at the synagogue,which was not mentioned in their visa.
The couple told the court that Bernstein,a rabbi,was invited by the synagogue to conduct the rituals for the microscopic Jewish community in Kerala. Keing was supposed to help her husband in synagogue services. To buttress their argument,the couple had furnished documents regarding the communication between the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs of Israel and the Indian Ambassador in Israel about their plan to offer religious service to Jews in Kochi.
Ernakulam Collector P I Sheik Pareeth said the couple was heard this afternoon. They produced documents to substantiate that they had applied for permission to conduct religious activities at the synagogue. But the same was not mentioned in their visa,which led to the police report, he said. We have decided to approach the Israel Embassy in New Delhi to get clarifications. Until then,the deportation order would be suspended. However,they would not be allowed to head the religious activities at the Synagogue since the matter is under probe, Pareeth added.