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No Afghan protestors outside UNHCR office now: Delhi Police to HC

The high court had said that the law was same for everybody and questioned the authorities as to how there can be 500 persons gathered for protest when the guidelines do not permit it.

Published: 07th September 2021 04:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2021 05:14 PM   |  A+A-

Afghan Refugees staying In Delhi during a protest against  UNHCR India in New Delhi

Afghan Refugees staying In Delhi during a protest against UNHCR India in New Delhi. (File Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that there are now no protests outside the UNHCR office here by Afghan nationals seeking refugee status.

"The protest by Afghan refugees has been withdrawn from UNHCR Office" said the Delhi Police in its status report filed before the high court.

It was hearing the petition filed by Vasant Vihar Welfare Association seeking the removal of protestors in the proximity of residential areas.

The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) office is located in the Vasant Vihar locality of south Delhi.

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The counsel, appearing for the association, also told Justice Rekha Palli that there is no protest in the area now.

"Yesterday evening I received a status report. There are no protests (at Vasant Vihar) and nothing remains," he submitted.

In view of the change in circumstances, the judge closed the proceedings initiated by the association while refusing to pass any order in relation to the formulation of a policy on "congregation of foreign nationals/asylum seekers/refugees."

Advocate Shahrukh Ejaz, appearing for the association, submitted that "last time also there was Rohingya crisis and people started gathering. This has become a routine now for people to gather and protest."

Taking note of the submissions of the Delhi Police and association, the judge said "nothing survives (in the petition). I'm not inclined at this stage."

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The hich court declared the petition as dismissed as withdrawn and gave liberty to the petitioner to approach again if need arises.

Additional standing counsel Satyakam, appearing for Delhi Police, stated that "a small nudge goes a long way" and "nothing remained" in the petition in the absence of any protest at the site.

On September 3, the high court had directed the Delhi government and police to ensure that number of Afghan nationals, protesting outside UNHCR office and seeking refugee status, is reduced and they strictly follow COVID-19 appropriate protocol.

The high court had said that the law was same for everybody and questioned the authorities as to how there can be 500 persons gathered for protest when the guidelines do not permit it.

Vasant Vihar Welfare Association had stated that several foreign nationals had gathered outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) at B Block in South Delhi's Vasant Vihar since August 15, including lanes and parks adjoining it and residents were facing difficulties due to this.

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It said that the number of such foreign nationals from Afghanistan increased manifold in the past week owing to the takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban forces, forcing many to seek asylum in different countries including India.

The petition had said the area had turned into a protest site where people from all age group including children are congregating and added that putting children in a situation especially where third wave of COVID-19 is imminent and is predicted to affect children more severally is extremely disastrous.

When the Centre's counsel, while referring to the Afghanistan political crisis, had said the situation is not normal and it is unprecedented, the court had said there was no question being unreasonably harsh to anybody but the law was same for everybody.

Central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul had said the issue must be seen from a humanitarian angle and urged the court to grant some more time to take a holistic view to resolve the issue.



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