Press Trust of india

HC seeks Delhi Police stand on plea against gatherings outside UNHCR office

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a status report from the city police on a plea by Vasant Vihar Welfare Association against the repeated gathering of foreign nationals outside the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) located in South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar.

The association claimed the large gatherings cause constant nuisance to the residents of the area who are unable to commute because the entire road in B Block, where the UNHCR offices are situated, is blocked.

Justice Prathiba M Singh issued notice to the Delhi police on the association’s plea and said it shall be ensured that the “clear” status of the road, as recorded in an order passed on an earlier petition, is maintained.

“Issue notice to Delhi police… It shall be ensured that the status, as recorded in the order dated September 7, 2021, which specifically notes the submission that the road outside the UNHCR building has been cleared, is maintained,” the court said.

The counsel for the petitioner said the association had earlier filed a separate petition on the same issue which was disposed of in September 2021 after the road outside the UNHCR building was cleared.

After this, in October 2021, again people started coming and the problem is no longer caused by 10-15 people, he added.

The petitioner had first approached the high court in September 2021, stating that several foreign nationals from Afghanistan had gathered outside the offices of UNHCR, including in lanes and parks adjoining it, and residents were facing difficulties due to that.

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

The petition was withdrawn after the court was informed  there were no protesters outside the UNHCR office anymore with liberty to the petitioner to approach the court again if needed.

In its status report, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, South West, had said the protest by Afghan refugees has been withdrawn from UNHCR Office.

The high court had earlier directed the Delhi government and police to ensure the number of Afghan nationals protesting outside the UNHCR office seeking refugee status is suitably reduced and the protesters made to strictly follow COVID-19 protocol.

The matter will be heard next on February 9.

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