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Pune: Anti-CAA protests called off temporarily amid COVID-19 outbreak

Protesters at Kondhwa and Mominpura say they will be back 'as soon as normalcy returns'.

Written by Atikh Rashid | Pune |
Updated: March 24, 2020 6:20:37 pm
Pune Anti-CAA protests, COVID-19 Pune news, coronavirus Pune news, coronavirus latest updates, Pune news, Indian Express The empty ‘Kondhwa Shaheen Bagh’ on Tuesday. (Photo: Arul Horizon)

Anti-CAA protests in Pune have been ‘suspended’ considering the COVID-19 outbreak. The protesters, however, said they will be back as soon as normalcy returns.

The protests at Kondhwa and Mominpura areas of the city, which started in January this year, were being attended by hundreds of women every day. Last week, Pune Police officers had held a meeting with organisers of the Kondhwa protest – termed ‘Kondhwa Shaheen Bagh’ – to discontinue the agitation. The protesters had promised that although they wouldn’t call it off, they would bring down the people attending the protest to 5-6 individuals.

“However, on Monday, after the Chief Minister announced section 144 across the state and with the worsening COVID-19 crisis, we decided to suspend the protest until normalcy returns. This is being done to help the efforts being taken by the government to contain the coronavirus spread,” said Maeraj Shaikh, one of the organisers of the anti-CAA protest.

Shaikh said as there was still no clarity on CAA and NRC from the central government, and the state government had not taken any decision to withdraw the NPR exercise or to conduct it as per 2010 format, there was no reason to end the protest.

“Hence, we will be back and Kondhwa Shaheen Bagh will be back. The protests will continue until the government retreats,” said Shaikh.

Although the street protests have abated temporarily, people are using novel means to register their opposition to the law. On Tuesday, a plan for a candle-light vigil from balconies and windows was announced in solidarity with New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, which was cleared in the morning.

“On Janata Curfew day too, some of us held placards and posters demanding a repeal of the CAA, NRC and a better healthcare system for all, rather than empty calls for talis and thali bangings. The protests will continue in various forms,” said Alina Lule, a student activist.

After the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the Pune Police has also announced a complete ban on vehicular traffic on the roads barring a few exceptions to emergency workers, government officials involved in COVID-19 response, and mediapersons, among others.

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