Afghans no longer protesting outside UNHCR office, police inform Delhi HC
The city police on Tuesday informed the Delhi high court that there are now no protests by Afghan nationals seeking refugee status, outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Vasant Vihar.
“The protest by Afghan nationals has been withdrawn from UNHCR Office,” the police said in its status report filed before the high court.
The court has been hearing a petition filed by the Vasant Vihar residents’ welfare association, seeking the removal of protesters from outside the UNHCR office, citing inconveniences in moving about the area and fears of another Covid-19 outbreak.
Advocate Shahrukh Ejaz, 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”.
Ejaz submitted that “last time also, there was a Rohingya crisis and people started gathering”. “It has become a routine now for people to gather and protest (outside UNHCR),” he said.
Additional standing counsel Satyakam, appearing for the Delhi Police, said “a small nudge goes a long way” and “nothing remained” in the petition in the absence of any protest at the site.
Taking note of the submissions, justice Palli said “nothing survives (in the petition). I’m not inclined at this stage.” She declared the petition “dismissed as withdrawn” and gave liberty to the petitioner to approach again if the need arises.
On September 3, the high court had directed the Delhi government and the police to ensure that number of Afghan nationals, protesting outside the UNHCR office, is reduced and that they strictly follow all Covid-19 protocols.
The high court said that the law was the same for everybody and questioned the authorities as to how 500 persons could gather for a protest when the guidelines did not permit it.