By Abdul Bari Masoud
NEW DELHI: As a fall out of the communalisation of the Covid issue, the police in several states particularly in BJP ruled states is on a spree of arresting Tablighi Jamaat members particularly foreign nationals who had attended the ijtema’ or congregation at Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz here in mid March and fanned into different parts of the country. There are around 900 such foreigners who may face five-year jail-term for violation of visa rules.
It is for the first time that law enforcement agencies have been arresting foreign nationals for “violating” visa norms as they generally come on tourist visas to join Tablighi activity in the country. So far dozens of foriegn members of TJ were arrested from UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country and sent to jails after they completed quarantine.
In UP, a total of 17 foreign members of Tablighi Jamaat were arrested from Bahraich and sent to jail on April 12, after 14 days of quarantining when they were found negative for Covid-19. Earlier, UP police also arrested some foreigners from Meerut city.
In Bihar, where BJP is sharing power with the JD(U), the state police have arrested 57 foreign nationals for violating visa rules and sent them to jail.
All of them, according to police, had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin Markaz.
Bihar Police said that they were first detained and quarantined for 14 days and then tested for coronavirus. They have all been found corona negative and now sent to jail who had come on tourist visa but were indulging in “religious” preaching in different mosques which was not allowed under visa rules.
Any foreigner willing to do preaching work must obtain a visa for this purpose. A senior police official said that the foreigners arrested for violating the visa norms could be jailed for a maximum period of five years.
Those foreigners were arrested in Patna, Buxar, Kishanganj and Araria. While 17 were arrested from Patna, 18 from Araria and 11 each from Kishanganj and Buxar.They are from Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh .
In UP, after the quarantine period ended, Police arrested foreign members of TJ and were presented before the magistrate and then sent to jail.
They were found guilty of violating visa and passport norms and all of them belong to Indonesia and Thailand.Their test samples showed that they were Corona negative.
The FIRs were registered against them under relevant IPC sections including 269, 270, 271, 188, Epidemic Diseases Act (1897) 03, Passport Act (1967) Section 12(3).
In southern state of Tamil Nadu , Police arrested 11 Muslims of Myanmar but were released on bail. It sad to say no lawyer came forward to appear for them in the court.
Adv. A. Mohamed Yusuff, Madurai, told Muslim Mirror that when Tamilnadu Police arrested 11 TJ members from Myanmar in Tiruvarur district and produced before the Needamangalan Court on April 10 no lawyer was willing to appear for them.
However, the Learned Judicial Magistrate has taken Suomoto Bail Application (CMP – Criminal Miscellaneous Petition) and granted bail to all 11 accused on the basis of recent citation of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the light of Covid-19 pandemic and the further letter of Hon’ble Chief Justice of Madras High Court, he added.
Meanwhile, Advocate- on-Record, Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi , who is now representing TJ cases, expressing deep concern over the series of arrest of foreigners attached to TJ. He pointed out that earlier, the government stated that visas of around 900 foreigners TJ members are revoked and accordingly they will be deported back to their countries. But now it has come to light that FIRs are being registered against foreign TJ members and they are being sent to jail like in Bahraich, UP and other places.
Speaking with Muslim Mirror, Advo Ayyubi said TJ people are trying to get in touch with the authorites so that legal aid can be provided to such foreigners.
We have got to know from many sources that people who have come in tablighi jamat from foreign after they were quarantined and released from their quarantine period. When they are being taken in custody, FIR registered against them and FIR contain apart from section 269, 270, 271 and 188 of IPC and also contain section 14 of the Foreigners Act and section 12 of Passport Act because of this they have taken into custody and we are trying to provide them legal aid, said Ayyubi who is counsel for the TJ and is also an Advocate-on-Record practicing at the Supreme Court.
He further said,” we are trying to inform their respective embassies about these individuals who are being in custody and whose names are in the FIR”.
However, a source said the certain embassies are not showing much concern regarding the fate of their citizens.
Stoutly defending Markaz Nizamuddin, Ayyubi said it has an impeccable record of abiding by the law, and assisting the authorities whenever needed. He also defended Maulana Mohammad Saad saying he is a responsible citizen and head of this global movement.
The people familiar with TJ’s working told Muslim Mirror, this was not first instance that foreign nationals come on tourist visas to join Tablighi activities in India as it has been long held practice and the government is very much in know of this.They pointed out when BJP came to power in May 2014, this issue was raised by the some right wing groups but the government had ignored it.
It is to be noted that in non-BJP states like in Maharashtra, TJ foreign activists were not arrested and asked to stay where they were put up(mosque). In Chandarpur city, police first detained 13 Kyrgyz nationals from a mosque who were let off after their medical screening. . Local activist Aijaz Shaikh told Muslim Mirror that police did not misbehave with them and after verifying their details let off them. This indicates that police is taking action on its own discretion.