The Delhi Police has filed total 35 charge sheets against 376 foreign nationals from 34 countries for attending a religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz here in violation of visa conditions and indulging in missionary activities amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, officials said on Wednesday. Twenty charge sheets against 82 foreigners from 20 countries were filed before a court on Tuesday and 15 charge sheets against 294 foreign nationals from 14 countries were filed on Wednesday.
According to the charge sheets, all the foreign nationals have been booked for violating visa rules, violating government guidelines issued in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and regulations regarding the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
They have also been booked for 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 and relevant sections of the Foreigners Act.
The Centre has cancelled their visas and blacklisted them. The 294 foreigners chargesheeted on Wednesday belonged to Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and several African nations. Out of the 82 foreigners chargesheeted earlier, four of the accused were from Afghanistan, seven each from Brazil and China, five from the US, two each from Australia, Kazakhstan, Morocco and the 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.
A large congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital in March had emerged as a major hotspot of coronavirus in the country. Some of the participants, who were later tested positive for coronavirus, had travelled to their home states across the length and breadth of the country. 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 the Foreigners Act, Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and relevant sections of the IPC.
On Tuesday, the police had submitted a status report in the Delhi High Court. In the status report, the Delhi Police had said that in order to substantiate the legitimacy of their visit to India, the passports of 723 accused foreigners and ID cards of 23 accused Nepal nationals have been taken into possession. Over 150 accused foreign nationals were unable to provide their passports. Efforts were being made to account for all the passports in this regard, the report stated.
The punishment for various offences under penal provisions ranges from six months to eight years of imprisonment. An 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. 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.
Many Tablighi members and their contacts have been quarantined in the country after the Centre and the state governments conducted a "mega operation" to identify them.
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