Amid nationwide lockdown over highly contagious novel coronavirus or COVID-19, Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh – heart of protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA – was cleared this morning after 101 days.
Cops reached the site of the protest – which had inspired similar demonstrations across the country – at around 7 am. “They were not clearing the protest site despite repeated persuasion. When they refused to clear up, they were removed forcefully at around 7:30 am,” said an official, adding that large gatherings have been banned under Section 144 over COVID-19. Nine people, including six women and three men, have been detained.
“The protest site would be cleaned up with the help of civic body,” he added. Those protesting against CAA in other parts of the city – Jaffrabad (northeast Delhi) and Turkman Gate (old Delhi) – were also removed this morning.
This comes two days after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a lockdown in the city as a part of the imposition of countrywide restrictions in fight against coronavirus. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” he had tweeted.
The national capital – which has reported over 30 coronavirus cases, including one death – has shut public transport, sealed its borders and closed shops, allowing in only the essential items. Across India, over 470 cases have been reported, including nine deaths. Thirty states and union territories are under complete lockdown.
Last week, Delhi Police had urged the anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh – mostly women – to call off their agitation. The protesters, who began their sit-in on December 15, did not agree to the request. The sit-in would continue, they had said, with “necessary precautions”. The size of the gatherings was reduced after repeated requests by authorities.
The Shaheen Bagh protest had made international headlines over the last few months. The women – also called the Dadis (grandmothers) of Shaheen Bagh – were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizen (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), which they call “anti-Muslim”. The government says citizenship law or CAA will help persecuted minorities from three Muslim majority nations – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.(NDTV)