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UNHCR meets Pakistani prisoners who sought asylum in India

By Pti

New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) Representatives from the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees visited Tihar Prisonsto decide the case of 65 Pakistani prisoners belonging to aMuslim sect, banned in that country, who have sought asylum inIndia.

62 Pakistani''s belonging to Gowhar Shahi sect, banned byPakistan government, have been under detention in Tihar Jailsince April 23, 2007, after they staged a demonstration hereseeking asylum in India on the ground that their life was atrisk in Pakistan.

"Three investigators from the United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees are meeting the 55 Pakistaniprisoners lodged in our prisons to decide the case to givethem refugee status," Sunil Gupta, Tihar spokesperson and LawOfficer, said.

Refusing to return to their homeland, they had duringtheir protests burnt the Pakistani flag, their passports andvisa papers. They were subsequently arrested for having notravel documents and, therefore, being in India illegally.

During their detention, the number grew to 65 as some ofthe ladies among the demonstrators were pregnant and gavebirth to children.

In the year 2008, they had moved the Delhi High Courtpleading that the Indian authorities be restrained fromdeporting them back and they be granted refugee status.

Hearing their plea, the Delhi High Court had asked thegovernment to obtain clarification from UNHCR on the processof granting asylum.

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

Gupta said "the representatives of the UNHCR are meetingwith each prisoner individually and talking to them in detailas to why they do not want to go back to Pakistan and whathappened with them there." PTI SWT SKL

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