Syed Ali Mujtaba. Siyasat.net
Chennai: Tamil Nadu government has constructed a foreigner’s detention center at the Borstal school in the Puzhal Prison complex in the northeast Chennai.
125 foreign nationals will be housed
This detention center is one of its kinds where 125 foreign nationals belonging to Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) will be housed and are currently kept in Saidapet Sub-jail. They were arrested from various parts of Tamil Nadu for violating their visa norms. Once they get regular bail from the competent court, the foreign TJ members will be shifted to Borstal school which is now converted into a special camp.
The Prison Department had taken steps to ensure that they are kept under close observation by medical teams and will remain in detention, till their trail is pending and were ordered for deportation.
“These foreign TJ foreign nationals will have no access to the other three prisons in the Puzhal prison complex,” said, the Director-General of Police, Prisons, Sunil Kumar Singh.
“There is no possibility of old prisoners, including convicts, getting affected by the Covid-19 because there is absolutely no chance of their coming into contact with newcomers because the Borstal school is totally a separate entity in the Puzhal prison complex,” he added.
Among the 125 foreign nationals arrested for violating visa norms from different places in Tamil Nadu there are 12 are lady preachers. There are 13 male members from Bangladesh, 13 from Myanmar, 14 from Thailand, more than 10 from Malaysia, 46 from Indonesia among them 6 are ladies, 8 from Ethiopia among them 4 ladies and 9 from France, besides some other countries.
Among those who are in house arrest in Sidapet’ sub-jail only 6 Thai nationals have obtained bail and are shifted to the Borstal school in the Puzhal jail. Many among those arrested are no way connected to the Corona – TJ linkages and were in the state much before the Tablighi Jamaat event took place in New Delhi.
Federation of Muslim Organizations, parties condemn arrest
The Federation of Muslim Organizations and Parties condemned the arrest of the Tablighi Jamaat preachers from foreign countries and said they were on a pilgrimage to Tamil Nadu.
P A Kajamoinudeen Bakavi, President of the federation which comprises of 24 organizations and political parties demanded the immediate release of the preachers and deportation to their respective countries.
The federation expressed concern over the way the Tamil Nadu government is treating these foreign nationals and said, “These foreign preachers had travelled to Tamil Nadu with valid travel documents, but they were treated like terrorists by the state government,” Bakavi said in a statement.
“I have asked the state government to treat the preachers respectfully and take necessary measures to deport them to their respective countries,” Bakavi said.
Reacting to this development, M. H. Jawahirullah Presiden of ‘Manithaneya Makkal Katchi,’ a Muslim political party questioned the rationale behind creation of the dentation center of the foreigners in the state.
“It is perhaps first time in the history that a detention camp is established for foreigners visiting another country who have traveled following the due procedures,” he said.
“Those arrested and kept in the Sidapet sub-jail are living in in human conditions because this jail which was constructed during the British period, its flooring are broken and the foreigners are made to sleep on such rough surface,” he said.
“The foreigner’s belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat had come to the state on a pilgrimage but were arrested on false charges at the behest of the Central government,” which is biased towards Muslims as everyone knows, he said.
“It is not the first time anyone has violated the Visa rules, all such persons were blacklisted and deported to their countries. This is the first time foreigners have never been arrested and are subjected to the motion of bail and exoneration from the trial courts and then their deportation. Till then they have to be in the special camp, which is ludicrous.”
So far, only six of them have been able to get bail and sent to Borstal school special camp in the Puzhal prison other’s bail plea is being delayed for some reason or other and this shows the anti-Muslim attitude of the government, the MMK leader said.. Jawahirullah begged for global attention they way foreigners are treated in Tamil Nadu. “I wondered if the Tamil Nadu government would have done the same to the foreign members of other religions traveling to the state and may have got away with the detention camp,’ he said.
The ‘Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, President demanded immediate release of the foreign TJ members and asked the state government to take necessary measures to deport them as quickly as possible. He also demanded the immediate closer of such detention center which is a gross human rights violation that too of foreigners who were visiting the largest democracy of the world.
These foreigner TJ members had come to India on tourist visas and visited various parts of Tamil Nadu for preaching purposes. Some of them had come to the state after attending the TJ conference in New Delhi. Some of them were already in the state even before the ‘Corona- Markaz’ linkage was discovered. The State police had arrested all the TJ members who were in Tamil Nadu, following the instruction from the Ministry of Home Affairs New Delhi.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. (www.siyasat.net is Ahmedabad, Gujarat India based website)