The judge observed that there was no evidence to show that they violated the visa rules
PATNA – Weeks After a Delhi court acquitted 36 foreigners associated with the Tablighi Jamaat of all charges, the Patna High Court has quashed cases against 18 foreigner Tablighis, holding that there is no evidence to show that they violated the visa rules.
While delivering a common judgment in two separate criminal writ petitions filed by 21 persons including three residents of Bihar’s Araria district, a bench of Justice Rajeev Ranjan Prasad held that there were no materials present before the police to prove that the foreigners were involved in religious preaching or work which is condition for violation of tourist visa norms attaching criminal proceedings.
The order was delivered on December 22 but came in public domain on Wednesday. Of the 18 foreign nationals, nine are Malaysians and nine are Bangladeshis. They were booked by the Narpathganj and Araria police on charges of not informing the authority about their presence and preaching religious ideologies on tourist visa on April 12 this year.
After a number of Tablighi preachers were tested with covid-19 at Nizamuddin Markaz, a mosque in South Delhi, the government launched a fierce crackdown against them across the country. They were charged under various Sections, including stringent ones. But the courts have either acquitted or quashed cases filed against them and reprimanded the police for arresting them without any evidence.
The high court has also directed the Central government to take immediate steps for deporting the 18 foreign citizens back home if they are not wanted in any other case or are required to stay in India because of any order passed by a competent authority or court. However, the court did not grant relief to the three Indians accused in both cases.
The court observed that no material in the form of audio/video cassettes, leaflets or pamphlets were found in the possession of foreign nationals and there was absolutely no material in the case diary to even prima facie suggest that they indulged in preaching religious ideologies or they had addressed any congregation on ‘Markaz’ and ‘Mosque’ platform.
These foreign nationals had visited the Nizamuddin in Delhi before the Tablighi congregation. They were arrested from Araria Jama Masjid and Riwahi Markaz in April. They were given bail in June but were stopped from going to their countries until the case against them is disposed of.
“Alhamdolillah, we are grateful to Allah. We had come to Araria on March 10. In April, we were sent to jail where we were for 57 days. We got bail then. Then, we were living in the Araria Basra hotel. Now, we are at Araria Jama Masjid. Our lawyer fought our case in the Patna High court and then we got justice. India’s justice system is very good. We have old relations with India,” said Mahboobur Rahman, one of the Bangladeshi nationals.