New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI) The government on Tuesday decided not to issue tourist visa to any foreigner who wishes to visit India and take part in Tablighi Jamaat activities after the organisation''s headquarters at Nizamuddin area turned out to be a hotspot for spread of coronavirus, officials said.
The decision was taken after it was found that about 2,100 foreigners have come to India since January 1 and indulged in Tablighi Jamaat activities in different parts of the country. Many of them have tested coronavirus positive.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been advised that missions may be requested to refrain from granting tourist visa to such foreigner who is likely to use it for Tablighi Jamaat activities, a home ministry official said.
The home ministry told the MEA that it should ensure that details regarding place of stay and return ticket as well as financial means to defray expenses in India by such visa applicants must be examined carefully before granting them tourist visas.
While the e-visas are granted by Ministry of Home Affairs, normal tourist visas are issued by Indian missions following clearance from MHA, said a government official.
In addition, the home ministry told the Delhi Police Commissioner to caution the organisation''s headquarters about the decision and also ensure that those who are promoting missionary activities and having tourist visa are treated as visa violators.
They must not be allowed to conduct Tablighi Jamaat activities on tourist visa, the ministry said.
In a statement, the ministry also said it is estimated that from January 1 onwards, approximately 2,100 foreigners had visited India for Tablighi activities.
As on March 21, approximately 824 foreigners, were dispersed in different parts of the country and 216 of them were staying at the organisation''s headquarters here.
The home ministry said a total of 303 Tablighi Jamaat activists had symptoms of COVID-19 and were referred to different hospitals in Delhi.
Another 1,339 were quarantined in different centres in the national capital.
Tablighi Jamaat workers, both foreigners as well Indians, indulge in preaching tours across the country known as ''Chilla'' in which a volunteer of the organisation travels for 40 days to various parts of the country and stay in local mosques where they inform the neighbourhood people about their activities besides holding special prayers.
Various nationals, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan come for Tablighi activities.
All such foreign nationals normally report their arrival at Tabligh Markaz at Banglewali Mosque in Hazrat Nizamuddin, the statement said.
From here, they are detailed for ''Chilla'' activities to different parts of the country, the home ministry said. PTI ACB SKL ZMN