BHOPAL: Rajya Sabha member and legal eagle Vivek Tankha has written a letter to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, raising the matter of the reported arrest of a British national a few weeks back in Bhopal.
In the letter, a copy of which has been tweeted also, Tankha has written that Sohail Hughes, a British national was on an extended holiday to visit family in Gujarat region.
His family petitioned the British government against what they perceive as unlawful detention of a British national by Indian officials.
Hughe’s sister Aatika has said that her brother was forced to take refuge in a mosque in Bhopal, the city which he was visiting, but was held up because of the sudden nationwide lock-down in March, which gave no time to the foreign nationals to leave India.
Aatika also complained that her brother’s passport was seized and he was placed in quarantine. While in quarantine, Hughes had been repeatedly tested COVID-19 negative and his test reports were always negative, Tankha mentioned in the letter.
“The family, the British government and the British media complains that a British national has been detained for spreading COVID-19 and violating visa regulations after being caught in a mosque with other people when in fact, he has been repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19.
They blame the central government for not giving an opportunity to Sohail Hughes to leave the country on announcement of lock-down. Sohail is presently lodged in Bhopal Old Central Jail and his application for bail has been rejected by the court,” Tankha wrote in the letter.
The Congress parliamentarian further wrote to the MP CM, “The said story of Sohail is an example of how government and police have in their exuberance, unlawfully detained a foreign national without any justifiable reason.
“In the interest of justice and international comity, I petition the Madhya Pradesh government to immediately withdraw the unjustified prosecution of Sohail, to get him discharged from Court proceedings and to permit him to travel back to UK,” wrote Tankha.
“This is an issue having transnational ramifications and directly affects the relationship of Madhya Pradesh with UK,” Tankha mentioned in the letter.
The Congress MP has also enclosed the copy of the letter to the Ministry of External Affairs.
When contacted in the matter, the deputy inspector general of police (DIG-Bhopal) Irshad Wali told The New Indian Express that the concerned man has been booked for violation of Visa rules and it’s now up to the Court to decide whether to grant him bail or not.
In April, over 60 foreign nationals who formed part of Tablighi Jamaat groups in Bhopal in March were booked by five police stations in Bhopal for the spread of the deadly Coronavirus infection, violation of official orders and also violation of Visa rules.
Over 20 of those Jamaatis had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and were admitted at hospitals in Bhopal, while the remaining were institutionally quarantined.
A few weeks later, over 60 jamaatis, including the foreign nationals were arrested by Bhopal police and sent into judicial custody.