Eight Malaysian nationals, who were part of the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Nizamuddin in New Delhi last month, were intercepted and detained by immigration authorities at Delhi’s IGI airport while trying to board a special flight to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
COVID-19 cases in India have spiked ever since members of the Tablighi Jamaat who attended the gathering tested positive. Over 33 per cent of positive cases across the country have been traced to the Delhi congregation.
The eight Malaysians were intercepted by immigration authorities following a Delhi Police request to open a Look Out Circular against an estimated 200 people. The eight have since been detained by the Delhi Police Crime Branch.
Sources in the Crime Branch told The Indian Express that the detained persons are in the age group 25-28.
“One of them came to India in January, and another in February. The remaining six came in the first week of March.
All came on tourist visas, only to attend the religious gathering at the Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid, headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat outfit in Nizamuddin West,” sources said.
The police, sources said, are trying to ascertain where had the eight Malaysians been all these days.
Sources said a Malindo Air special flight from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur via Mumbai was scheduled at 12.30 pm Sunday. Six hours before departure, details of all passengers were shared with the immigration department.
“While scanning the list of passengers, immigration officials found that LOCs had been issued against eight passengers. They intercepted seven when they showed up around 9.30 am. The eighth was detained later and all were handed over to the CISF which, in turn, informed Delhi Police. A team of Crime Branch, which is probing the case against the management committee of Markaz, detained all of them,” sources said.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said the eight Malaysians were trying to leave on a special flight arranged by the Malaysian government.
“The Delhi Police have taken their custody. Ministry circular on this matter is clear that action against such foreigners who have violated visa rules and government directives on containment of COVID-19 must be taken under the Foreigners Act and Disaster Management Act,” an official of the MHA said.
Sources said the eight Malaysians were trying to take advantage of a special relaxation that the government made early this week for evacuation of stranded foreign nationals. On April 2, the MHA released guidelines for evacuation of foreigners after it received requests from multiple governments that they be allowed to take their nationals home.
According to MHA, the requests would have to come through Ministry of External Affairs. Once endorsed by MEA, foreigners would be evacuated through chartered flights “arranged by the foreign government concerned in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation”. It said prior to departure, the foreign nationals would be screened for COVID-19 symptoms as per the standard health protocol.
“Only those foreign national(s) would be allowed to leave, who are asymptomatic for COVID-19. In case of symptomatic person(s), the future course of treatment would be followed, as per the standard health protocol,” it said. For their transit from their place of stay to the airport, transportation would be arranged by the local embassy/consulates, the MHA said, adding that the transit pass for movement of the vehicle would be issued by the state where the foreigner is staying.
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