The Delhi Police filed before a court here on Wednesday (May 27) charge sheets against 294 foreign nationals from 14 countries attending Markaz at Nizamuddin in the national capital by violating visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines, issued in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The police have filed 15 charge sheets against the foreigners belonging to 14 different countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and several African nations and Metropolitan Magistrate Saema Jamil has put up the matter for further hearing on June 17. Earlier on Tuesday, the police had filed 20 chargesheet against 82 foreigners from 20 countries in the case.
According to the fresh chargesheets, the foreign nationals have been booked for violating visa rules, violating government guidelines issued in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and regulations regarding Epidemic diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and prohibitory orders under section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
They have also been for the offences under sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code. The foreign nationals have not been arrested yet.
According to the earlier charge sheets, four of the accused were from Afghanistan, seven each from Brazil and China, five from US, two from Australia, Kajahstan, Morocco, UK, one each from Ukraine, Egypt, Russia, Jordan, France, Tunisia, Belgium, eight from Algeria, 10 from Saudi Arabia, 14 from Fiji and six each from Sudan and Philippines. In April, COVID-19 cases across the country spiked after hundreds of many Tablighi Jamaat members, who had attended the religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz event, tested positive.
At least 9,000 people, including the foreign nationals participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin. Later, many of the attendees traveled to various parts of the country. According to police, these foreign nationals had entered India on tourist visa and had participated in the gathering at Markaz illegally.
Besides, violating the provisions of visa, these foreign nationals also led to a situation where a highly infectious disease Covid-19 infection spread and threatened the lives of the inmates and the general public at large, they said. The police also said that more than 900 foreign nationals who are accused in the case belong to 34 different countries and charge sheets are being prepared country-wise, under sections of Foreigners Act, The Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and relevant sections of IPC.
The punishment for various offences under penal provisions ranges from six months to eight years of imprisonment. The Centre has cancelled their Visa and blacklisted them. A FIR was registered against Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad Kandhalvi and six others on March 31 on a complaint of the Station House Officer of Nizamuddin under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act (2005), Foreigners Act and other relevant sections of Indian Penal Code.
Kandhalvi was later booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder after some of the attendees of the religious congregation died due to COVID-19, police said. After being exposed to a large gathering in March amid the COVID-19 or coronavirus lockdown many members of Tablighi Jamaat from Markaz Hazrat Nizamuddin were taken out by the authorities and lodged in different quarantine centres in Delhi. Some of them were sent to the centres a few days later after being detained from various mosques. The other members were directly taken to quarantine centres to contain the spread of COVID-19