Blacklisting proceedings have begun against 360 foreigners who had taken part in the Tablighi Jamaat activities in India and left the country before borders were sealed to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Union Home Ministry said Friday.
Addressing a press conference, joint secretary in the Home Ministry Punya Salila Srivastava was quoted by PTI as saying, “Blacklisting process of 360 foreigners who took part in the activities of Tablighi Jamaat but have returned to their countries has begun.”
Srivastava also ruled out the deportation of 960 foreigners, still present in India, who came on tourist visas and took part in the activities at this stage. Srivastava said action has already been initiated against them for alleged visa violations under the Foreigners Act and the Disaster Management Act.
“At this stage, there is no question of deportation because the action has already begun. As and when deportation will take place, it will be as per standard health protocol,” news agency PTI quoted Srivastava as saying. These 960 foreigners have already been blacklisted for allegedly violating visa conditions for participating in Tablighi Jamaat activities, she added.
Home Ministry has asked the Directors Generals and Commissioners of Police to initiate “strict action” in such cases, she said.
Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in Nizamuddin West has emerged as the epicentre for the spread of the coronavirus across the country after thousands of people took part in a congregation from March 1-15. More than 2,000 of them were foreigners and after the event, over 800 of them went to various parts of the country and engaged in proselytising activities, the MHA claimed earlier.
Many of them came from COVID-19-affected countries such as Thailand, China, Malaysia and Indonesia and the infection spread among those staying at the Markaz. As they went across the country and met hundreds of people, the infection spread further, the MHA said. Nizamuddin Markaz has now been notified as a COVID-19 hotspot.
So far, 647 of the total COVID-19 cases reported in India have links to Tablighi Jamaat activities.
India has so far reported 56 deaths from COVID-19 of which 12 have been reported in last 24 hours, a health ministry official said. The ministry has also asked the states and Union Territories to take strict action against those attacking the health care professionals and frontline workers, Srivastava said, adding that the states should ensure the security of medical fraternity, she said.
Several cases have been reported in the country where healthcare workers and frontline workers were allegedly attacked by locales and Tablighi Jamaat members.
Allegations of misbehaviour by Tablighi Jamaat members have also surfaced in Delhi when they were taken to quarantine centres. The Home Ministry has set up two new helplines for coronavirus pandemic —1930 (national toll-free) and 1944 (specifically for North East India), Srivastava said. “Also, list of states’ helplines is posted on MHA website,” she said.
She also assured that Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to Chief Secretaries to ensure smooth disbursement of benefits of Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna which is starting from Friday.
“The Home Secretary asked the Chief Secretary to pass necessary instructions which should reach field level. Call people at staggered times, maintain social distancing and ensure the security of bank branches. Ensure smooth disbursement of benefits and every beneficiary gets due benefits,” PTI quoted her as saying she said.
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