New Delhi: Fifty five Pakistani prisoners, who had been lodged in Tihar Jail since 2007 for illegally staying in India, have been released and are set for deportation.
The prisoners which included 19 women were released on December 9 and will be deported to the United States and Canada, sources said.
The Pakistani nationals, belonging to the Gowhar Shahi sect, which was banned by the Pakistan government, were arrested in April 2007 after they staged a demonstration in Delhi seeking asylum in India on the ground that their life was at risk back home. They also destroyed all their travel documents.
In 2008, they moved the Delhi High Court pleading that the Indian authorities be restrained from deporting them back to Pakistan 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 two, 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."
After hearing their plea, the UNHCR granted them refugee status and decided to send them to the US and Canada.
During their detention, the number grew to 65 as some of the ladies among the demonstrators were pregnant and gave birth to children.