Shaheen Bagh Protest amid COVID-19

Reason for protest

“Shaheen Bagh protest” is an ongoing protest which is currently lead by women, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, that was introduced in both the houses of Parliament on 11th December 2019, it is an agitation against the recent act and National Register of citizens (NRC) also this protest has been against police ruggedness, poverty, unemployment and women’s safety. The sit-in protest at Shaheen Bagh which garnered nationwide public attention had started on December 15 with a group of 50 residents who took to the roads and tried to block traffic.

Many steps had been taken by the government to remove the blockade, but nonetheless, all the efforts have been vague up till now. Supreme Court also selected two interlocutors senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran, who gave a report of their four-day endeavour to cajole Shaheen Bagh protesters to shift their agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) to an alternative site, suitably out of the way of traffic and public movement. The next hearing is to be held on 23rd March, 2020.

New global disaster:

While on one hand amid this protest a new disaster was on its way to the entire world, and now it has been the current reason for shutdown in many countries including America, Italy, Iran, China including India. As per the Situation Report-1 released by the World Health Organization on 21st January2020, on Novel Coronavirus 2019(n-CoV), the country office of World Health Organization in China was informed of pneumonia cases with unknown cause, then further on 3rd January, 2020 total 44 number of cases was reported of pneumonia with unknown cause to the WHO, following which on 13th January Thailand, 15th January Japan, and on 20th January Republic of Korea reported its first case of lab confirmed novel coronavirus (n-CoV 2019) from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

In India (Delhi):

As per the report of “THE ECONOMIC TIMES”, a PIL was filed on 20th of March by Ashutosh Dubey who raised the necessary interference of Supreme Court required for the evacuation of Shaheen Bagh, in order to protect the Fundamental Right of other Citizens. The petition also pointed that there is a state of national emergency and these protestors are not having rights of risking the lives of other citizens of Delhi, thus during this period of time there is urgent need of eviction of protestors at Shaheen Bagh and once the threat of Coronavirus is over the protestors can return, as highlighted by the PIL.

The government has declared the COVID-19 outbreak in the country a “notified disaster”, in a move called “a special one-time dispensation”, to provide compensation and aid to infected people and the families of those who died due to the virus. Funds for this and other measures will be drawn from the Disaster Response Funds of each state (SDRF).


Steps taken by Delhi Government:

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arwind Kejriwal said on Monday “Shaheen Bagh protesters will have to follow ban on Gathering over Coronavirus”, the rule of ban on gathering of 50 people also includes within its ambit Shaheen bagh and the protests going on there.

On late Evening of Thursday, 19th March Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged to the citizen of entire nation to stay back at home on the upcoming Sunday calling it “self-imposed curfew”. While in response to it one of the protestor in Shaheen Bagh said that on the day of self-imposed curfew the women will sit under a small tent and only two women will sit under each tent maintaining one meter distance between them, while the other protestor remarked that they have been currently taking precautionary measures at the protest site, despite that the protest will not stop at any cost .

After meeting with police, the protesters have also rejected their appeal of evacuating the road blockade. While surfing one of the mews channel I saw the question-answer session going on between the journalist and one of the protestor of Shaheen bagh, where on being asked the protestor remarked that for them currently the biggest virus is CAA, NPR, and NRC, while on the other hand the other protestor has called  Covid-19 as the game plan of government to stop the protest, unaware about how dangerous they can be to the entire community.

Not understanding the condition and threat pose by this critical situation in the country, the protesters are still on their protests, ignoring the rights of humanity as a whole, they must realise that the government asking them to evacuate the ground as per the demand of the situation and is not against their right to protest, if the protesters still chose to continue the protest during this “global emergency”, the government will have to take harsh steps unfortunately.