Assam is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of foreign nationals caught violating the terms of their visas by attending religious events and giving speeches at gatherings sponsored by church organizations. After three Swedish preachers were detained and deported for violating visa standards by indulging in proselytizing activities, seven German nationals have now been detained near Kaziranga National Park for a similar alleged crime on October 28, 2022.
The seven Germans, who visited Assam on tourist visas, were found giving speeches at church gatherings in various places in Assam, and were being held in the Golaghat district. The arrested persons have been identified as Christian Reiser, Michael Erich Schaper, Merten Asmus, Cornelia Von Oneimb, Hinrich Luppen-Von Oneimb, Christa Olearius and Lisa Aimee Bloem. Along with the prisoners, an Indian named Mukut Bodra from Jharkhand is also being held with these Germans.
All seven foreign citizens who entered India on a tourist visa were detained in accordance with Section 14 of the Aliens Act. They will each be fined $500 and evicted. If they do not pay the fine, they will be arrested. They have been detained for indulging in religious preaching activities on tourist visas, as a mission visa is required for foreigners to participate in such activities.
Speaking about the incident, Assam Police Special DGP GP Singh said: “They were definitely involved in religious activities, although I am not authorized to say whether they indulged in conversion or not. They came here on tourist visas. To participate in religious activities, they had to take missionary visas. For now, we have detained them, asked them to pay the fine for violating the visa standards and leave the country, according to the law.” He told that they participated in religious events in various places such as Tinsukia, Margherita, Karbi Anglong, and that they would attend a similar program in Tezpur tomorrow. He said they violated visa standards when visiting tourist visa, while preachers are required to obtain Missionary (M) visas and also register with the local government.
Reportedly, the group had delivered religious speeches in several districts in Assam, including Tinsukia and Karbi Anglong, and stopped in Golaghat. They also went to visit other places but were stopped by the police on their way from Rangagora to a resort in Kaziranga. Police say the seven Germans are currently staying at the Wild Grass Resort of Kaziranga National Park. They would go to Tezpur after delivering speeches at church-sponsored events in Golaghat and Karbi Anglong districts. The Germans have been in the state since October 21.
Police also said that all of these areas are dominated by tea garden workers and indigenous tribes. The DGP said restraining orders have been issued to Germans asking them not to leave the resort for the time being. If they pay the $500 fine for violating visa standards and provide proof of obtaining tickets to leave India, they will be released and arrangements will be made to leave the country. However, if they fail to do so, appropriate measures will be taken.
It is reported that the Germans will be moved to Guwahati and then to Kolkata, from where they will be sent back to Germany on Saturday.
Earlier on October 26, Assam police arrested three individuals from Sweden for violating visa standards by engaging in proselytizing activities. The three Swedish nationals had entered India on a tourist visa but were found to be involved in religious preaching activities and were arrested from Naharkatia in the Dibrugarh district of eastern Assam. The arrested Swedish nationals were identified as Hannah Mikaela Bloom, Marcus Arne Henrik Bloom and Susanna Elisabeth Hakanason.
The three tried to trick people into converting to Christianity in tea garden areas in the region, and they were arrested while organizing a conversion event. They tried to lure people in the area to Christianity under the pretense of a program called the “Peace and Healing Prayer Festival” scheduled for October 25-27. The event was hosted on Achabam Ghinai 1 No. playground in Nakarkatia by United Churches Fellowship and Blessing Assam Mission Network.
The Swedish nationals were also fined US$500 each and were sent to Stockholm via Qatar on Friday, October 28. They were brought to court and found guilty under the Aliens Act, which ordered the police to arrange for their deportation. The recently arrested German preachers are also likely to go through a similar procedure.
Assam has seen a massive increase in tourist visa violations by peaches and terrorists in the state. Earlier, during the breaking of jihadist modules of the Ansarullah Bangla Team Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), it was revealed that several Bangladeshis had entered India with tourist visas, taken jobs in mosques and madarsas, and worked as jihadist sleeper cells.
What is a missionary visa?
Indian law prohibits foreigners on tourist visas from participating in religious activities, including lectures and gatherings. A mission visa is one of the 18 different types of visas that the Indian government offers to foreigners who want to work as missionaries in India or who want to enter the country for other religious or humanitarian purposes. Missionary visas are issued for a single entry into India for the maximum time allowed by the Government of India.