COVID-19: Hundreds protest at Shaheen Bagh defying mass gatherings ban


PTI, Mar 17, 2020, 9:13 AM IST

New Delhi: Hundreds of people stayed put at Shaheen Bagh on Monday, even after the Delhi government announced that any gathering of over 50 people would not be allowed till March-end amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Young men and college students took turns to address the gathering, including women and children. Poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz were recited, and slogans of revolution and unity in diversity rend the air at the women-led sit-in against the amended citizenship law that entered the 93rd day.

Seema, a Shaheen Bagh local, said instead of asking the protesters to end their sit-in, the governments in Delhi and at the Centre should have sent them face masks and hand sanitizers.

“But they haven’t done anything for us and only want to divert from the main issue, which is CAA,” she added. Kaneez Fatima, who claims to be a regular at the site since Day 1, said if the government was so concerned about safety and well being, it should withdraw the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, adding that “we will call off the protest immediately”.

Another woman, who wished not to be identified, said their protest would continue even if takes them to sit in groups of 50 people, something the Delhi government directed on Monday.

“There is enough space for people to sit in groups of 50 and another group of 50 would sit at some distance and further on,” the woman said. “But even this would be done as last resort to continue the protest.” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that any gathering – religious, family, social, political or cultural – of over 50 people would not be allowed in Delhi till March 31 as a precautionary measure to contain the deadly COVID-19. He indicated that the ban on gatherings will also cover protests at Shaheen Bagh and outside the Jamia Millia Islamia.

These places have been witnessing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register since December 15.

Syed Taseer Ahmed, attached with the Shaheen Bagh protest since its start, said the agitation would continue as it is.

“We are not going anywhere. Our protest is in compliance with the Supreme Court guidelines. What the Delhi government is suggesting is not doable,” Ahmed said.

“The Supreme Court’s decision, in this case, is expected on March 23, we will go as per the apex court’s decision,” Ahmed added.

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