Acting tough, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has blacklisted 2,550 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists who were staying in India during the Covid-19 lockdown and participating in religious activities in violation of visa norms. Hailing from nearly 40 countries, the Jamaatis have been barred from entering India for 10 years.

Officials said this was perhaps for the first time that the MHA had blacklisted such a large number of foreigners in one go and banned their entry for such a long duration under the Foreigners Act.

The MHA, said sources, took the decision after state governments provided details of the foreigners who were found to be illegally staying in mosques and religious seminaries. Over 2,300 Jamaatis, including 250 foreigners, were found to be living at the sect’s headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 25. Several of them had tested positive for Covid.

An MHA official said almost all the Tablighi activists came to India on tourist visa, but engaged in religious activities and violated the visa norms.

Those who have been blacklisted are from the US, the UK, France, Australia, Russia, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, the Philippines, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Ukraine. —

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