UNHCR meets Pakistani prisoners who sought asylum in India

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 18:44

New Delhi: Representatives from the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees visited Tihar Prisons
to decide the case of 65 Pakistani prisoners belonging to a
Muslim sect, banned in that country, who have sought asylum in
India.
62 Pakistani`s belonging to Gowhar Shahi sect, banned by
Pakistan government, have been under detention in Tihar Jail
since April 23, 2007, after they staged a demonstration here
seeking asylum in India on the ground that their life was at
risk in Pakistan.

"Three investigators from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees are meeting the 55 Pakistani
prisoners lodged in our prisons to decide the case to give
them refugee status," Sunil Gupta, Tihar spokesperson and Law
Officer, said.

Refusing to return to their homeland, they had during
their protests burnt the Pakistani flag, their passports and
visa papers. They were subsequently arrested for having no
travel documents and, therefore, being in India illegally.
During their detention, the number grew to 65 as some of
the ladies among the demonstrators were pregnant and gave
birth to children.

In the year 2008, they had moved the Delhi High Court
pleading that the Indian authorities be restrained from
deporting them back and they be granted refugee status.

Hearing their plea, the Delhi High Court had asked the
government to obtain clarification from UNHCR on the process
of granting asylum.

On December 2, 2010, the High Court in its order said,
"the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is directed
to hear and dispose of the appeal filed by the petitioner,
which is pending before it, dated 20/2/2005 within a period of
one month from the date of receipt of this order by it. For
the said period of one month and two weeks thereafter, the
residents shall not deport the petitioner."

Gupta said "the representatives of the UNHCR are meeting
with each prisoner individually and talking to them in detail
as to why they do not want to go back to Pakistan and what
happened with them there."

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 18:44

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