Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest cleared amid coronavirus lockdown
With Delhi tightening curbs on assembly and movement of people in the wake of coronavirus, the police cleared the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest on Tuesday morning. The unique sit-in protest against the citizenship law, conducted mostly by women, had been on for more than 100 days.
DCP Southeast RP Meena said, "We had requested the protesters to leave in the morning due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown that has been imposed. They refused and action was taken. Violators have been detained and the site has been cleared." Joint CP (southern range) Devesh Srivastava said that nine people, including six women, have been detained.
Section 144 is in place in Delhi after the Arvind Kejriwal-led government announced a lockdown as a precautionary measure against coronavirus. Before this, a protest outside Jamia had been called off last week.
A volunteer, who has been at the site since day one, said, "There were only 8-10 women at the site Tuesday morning. At 7 am, the police removed them. There is very heavy police deployment in Shaheen Bagh. Keeping the outbreak in mind, the number of protesters had been limited." The volunteer claimed that police dismantled the stage, removed the posters, broke the giant India map, and wheeled away the India Gate artwork that was at the site.
Discussions have been on at Shaheen Bagh over calling off the sit-in because of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier last week, Shaheen Bagh volunteers said it was decided that the protesters will comply with the CM's order of limiting the gathering at 50. However, by the evening, there were hundreds of protesters at the site, and a volunteer said the changes will be implemented by evening. They had also said that grandmothers and children would no longer be allowed at the site and each protester would sit at least one metre away from the other protesters. Face masks and sanitisers were also made available.
Meanwhile, DCP (South) Atul Kumar Thakur said that "Hauz Rani protest site has been removed. No one arrested or detained." Similarly, protesters were removed from Jamia University, Jaffrabad and Turkman Gate Tuesday morning, and some people have been detained.
On Sunday, when the country was observing Janata curfew, petrol bombs were hurled by unidentified persons at the Shaheen Bagh protest site. While protesters at Shaheen Bagh blamed 'outsiders' for the incident, police sources said they are probing the possibility of an internal feud between protesters over calling off the protest that eventually escalated.
The anti-CAA protest at Southeast Delhi's Shaheen Bagh has been on since December 15, with at least 300 women at the forefront of it. It sparked many similar demonstrations across the country. The protest saw several elderly women, some in their 80s, participate daily, and only recently retreated home due to Coronavirus. In January, a 25-year-old man fired shots in the air 50 mt away from the stage but that too didn't make the protesters leave.
(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)