Hours after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that “a gathering of more than 50 people will not be allowed in Delhi” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Shaheen Bagh protesters released a statement where they indicated they would “continue the protest.” At the press conference on Monday, when asked about Shaheen Bagh, the CM said that “this also applies to people protesting”.
The anti-CAA protest at Southeast Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh has been on since December 15, and has resulted in similar protests across the country.
At 9.15 pm Monday, the Twitter handle of the Shaheen Bagh protest released a statement: “Alongside our fight, we are keeping a close watch on the developments of the coronavirus pandemic. Legal and medical experts are in dialogue with us at the moment to find the best ways forward for our protest.”
Through the statement, protesters demanded that “the Delhi government take adequate and immediate measures to ensure the safety of those in Northeast Delhi who have lost their homes and are living in relief camps”.
Both the central and Delhi governments have stressed on the importance of social distancing.
The protesters, however, said that “while keeping in mind the health hazards of a congregation, we want to stress on the importance of continuing this struggle to protect the lives and statehoods of those marginalised by the policies of the central government”.
DCP (Southeast) R P Meena said efforts are on to sensitise people, including the Shaheen Bagh protesters, about coronavirus. A senior police officer said, “We won’t do forceful eviction, we are in dialogue with them, but they do not want to leave.”
A visible thinning of the crowds at Shaheen Bagh has been seen in the last few days, but the sit-in continues. A volunteer, who has been at the Shaheen Bagh sit-in since the beginning, said that despite interaction with medical and legal experts on coronavirus, protesters are “determined to continue the protest. Vulnerable age group is a part of the sit-in but they are refusing to leave. We are looking at alternative ways of protesting; some were discussed today but they were rejected.”
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