No protesters outside UNHCR office, issues resolved: Authorities tell Delhi HC

·4-min read
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

New Delhi [India], September 7 (ANI): Concerned authorities on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that now there are no Afghan nationals protesting outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office now.

Appearing for the Delhi Government and police, advocate Satyakam told the court that the issues have been resolved.

Justice Rekha Palli disposed of the plea observing that the primary grievance of the petitioner stands satisfied. The Court also granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the court in future if such a situation arises again.

The respondents in their status report said that they have taken steps after which there are no longer any foreign nationals outside the UNHCR.

Advocate Ajay Digpaul representing the Centre also informed the Court that the issues have been resolved.

Earlier, Delhi Police said that no prior permission was sought by the Afghan refugees or asylum seekers camping outside the UNHCR office. And, as it is a sensitive matter with international ramifications, it could not use brute force.

The Court had therefore directed the Delhi Police and other respondents to ensure that covid protocol was strictly followed and the number of protestors was suitably reduced.

The bench had further said, "We are adjourning the matter for next date on the request of Centre Government, If by the next date a decision is not taken by the Government, the Court will be constrained to pass suitable directions."

The bench of Justice Rekha Palli had also observed that "There is no question of being unreasonably harsh to anybody but the law is law for everybody. These agitators are at the wrong place. It's not a designated protest site. No DDMA guideline is being followed."

Meanwhile, Advocate Ajay Digpaul representing the Centre Government had clarified that the Ministry of External Affairs had nothing to do that this present petition. As far as MHA was concerned, Delhi Police was trying its best and was in touch with the protesters through senior officials.

The Court was hearing the plea of the Vasant Vihar Welfare Association, which had sought the removal of the foreign nationals who are refugees or asylum seekers from dwelling in temporary structures outside the office of the UNHCR and settling them in appropriate dwellings or camps.

The High Court had earlier, also observed that it could act as a super spreader of coronavirus as there was a lack of adherence to COVID-19 appropriate norms. It also noted that the large numbers of Afgan people had gathered next to each other without even wearing masks.

The petitioners, Vasant Vihar Welfare Association, and one Bhaskar Chatterjee through the plea also sought to direct respondents to issue appropriate action to deal with the nuisance being faced by the residents of Vasant Vihar after the gathering and squatting of a number of foreign nationals in the area in utter violation of COVID-19 protocols.

The petitioners also sought the direction of the Ministry of External Affairs to frame an appropriate policy for ensuring that such nuisance to the local residents does not occur on the account of foreign missions/ diplomacies being in the vicinity of residential localities. Many foreign nationals, mainly from Afghanistan, had started assembling and squatting in B-Block Vasant Vihar, around the office of UNHCR, common parks, and areas.

"The area has turned into a protest site where people from all age groups including children are congregating. It is important to mention that putting children in such a situation especially where the third wave of COVID-19 is imminent and is predicted to affect children more severely is extremely disastrous. Further, in absence of any arrangement by the respondents to settle these foreign nationals, they are dwelling on the lanes and park of petitioners' vicinity while congregating in large numbers, thus, posing a high health risk to the residents," the plea stated.

"Due to the desperation of the situation faced by the asylum seekers and refugees, the Petitioners apprehends that if no respite is provided by the Respondents to the foreign nationals and the number of such persons keeps increasing, the same could be a recipe of disaster in terms of public order as there is a possibility of the protest becoming violent and the pent-up anger of the foreign nationals being unleashed on the locality while treating the public and private property along with the unsuspecting residents," it added. (ANI)

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