GUWAHATI, April 5 - Persons coming from abroad to attend Tablighi Jamaat often violate the visa norms and this year too, most of the persons who came from foreign countries to attend the religious function in Nizamuddin Markaz violated the visa norms. It may be mentioned here that those who attended the religious congregation in Nizamuddin accounted for more than 30 per cent of the coronavirus cases in India, while, in Assam all the affected people barring one attended the congregation.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that the such practice of violation of the visa norms has been going on for years and this year, the issue came into prominence because of outbreak of coronavirus. The Government of India, on April 2, blacklisted 960 foreigners who attended the Tablighi Jamaat activities in India in violation of the visa norms and directed the states to take action against them.
Sources said that foreign nationals from countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand etc attended the religious congregation in Nizamuddin Markaz and they violated the visa norms. They came to India with tourist visas and attended the religious congregation in violation of the visa norms. Any foreigner coming to India on a tourist visa cannot take part in religious preaching, but the persons attending Tablighi Jamaat, as always violate the visa norms. Whenever such cases come to the notice of the security agencies, the government is immediately informed and such people are blacklisted and they cannot visit India again. But next time, different persons from the same countries visit India on tourist visas and attended such religious preaching.
Sources said that while applying for tourist visas, such people who attend Tablighi Jamaat claim that they would visit India as tourists and they also submit lists of places where they would visit and even the names of the hotels where they would be staying. It is not possible for the visa issuing authorities to check the movements of each and every person and they take advantage of the situation to attend religious congregations. It serves very little purpose even if they are blacklisted and never given visa to enter India again as a different set of people visit next year.
�With so many people travel globally these days, it is not possible for any Government to keep track of the persons who visit a country,� sources admitted.
Sources pointed out that anyone who comes to India for attending religious congregations or preaching should apply for Missionary visa but the norms for obtaining such visa are tougher and the persons who come to India to attend Tablighi Jamaat rarely apply for such visa. Only Christian missionaries sometimes apply for Missionary visa to visit India, sources added.
The foreigners who attended the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin came to India before the restrictions started and the possibility of some of them carrying the virus unknowingly cannot be ruled out. The congregation started before the Government started imposing the restrictions to check the outbreak of coronavirus. When the Government started imposing restrictions on gatherings, police warned the Nizamuddin Markaz authorities but they did not bother and most of the persons who attended the congregation did not realize that they are putting their lives and others at risk, sources added.