7 German tourists were nabbed by the Assam Police on Friday for the same offences, two days after detaining three Swedish nationals in Naharkatia in eastern Assam. The German tourists were held at a hotel close to Kaziranga National Park together with an Indian companion named Mukut Borda from Jharkhand.
“They were found indulging in religious activities which were in violation of the tourist visa issued to them. For such activities, they should have taken a missionary visa. They would be fined per law and asked to leave the country for violating visa conditions,” Special Director-General of Police Gyanendra Pratap Singh informed The Hindu.
According to Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) G P Singh, these German nationals were questioned on Friday after it was discovered that they had gone to religious services in Tinsukia, Margherita, and Karbi Anglong while they were supposed to be on a tourist visa.
Singh said, “To participate in religious activities, they need to have an M1 or missionary visa and register with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRRO) which they have not done. Tourists have been informed about the violation of the rules.” According to Singh, the media have been notified of the rule infringement.
They have been requested to stay at the lodge in Kaziranga National Park until they have paid a fine of $500 each and provided their return tickets out of the country, he added. The police officer stated, “In case they are not ready to pay the fine, we will consider filing a case against them”.
Two Indians, one from Jharkhand and a member of a missionary organisation, and the other from Assam’s Karbi Anglong district may face legal action, Singh said, for having invited the foreigners and failing to advise them of the necessity for visas.
The German nationals were allegedly found to have video graphic proof from the police that showed them participating in religious activities. Christian Reiser, Michael Erich Schaper, Merten Asmus, Cornelia Von Oneimb, Hinrich Luppen-Von Oneimb, Christa Olearius, and Lisa Aimee Bloem are the German nationals who are being held.
They were held in accordance with Section 14 of the Foreigners’ Act, which carries a $500 fine per person. Police indicated that they too might be arrested.
According to a government spokesman, Assam saw similar incidents because authorities were keeping a careful eye on activities that went beyond what was permissible for visitors from other countries. According to him, those with tourist visas are not permitted to give religious sermons or engage in any other religious activities.
A day after three Swedish visitors were expelled from the northern state for the identical offence, the German tourists received the directive. These Swedish tourists who had been imprisoned for taking part in a prayer service that was reportedly intended to convert people to Christianity were deported from Dibrugarh on Thursday.
According to Dibrugarh Superintendent of Police Shwetank Mishra, the police detained the group on Wednesday after opening a suo moto investigation into allegations that they violated visa regulations by attending the conference at a Ghinai tea estate under the jurisdiction of Namrup police station.
The Swedish visitors also received $500 in fines, which they each paid to the local government. With approval from the district government, the United Church Forum, a union of several churches, organised the three-day prayer gathering.