As the country observes a ‘janata curfew ‘amid the coronavirus pandemic, the ‘dadis’ of Shaheen Bagh keep the protest going. Only five to ten women were spotted at the protest site on Sunday, 22 March, sitting under the tents at a safe distance from each other, trying to make a statement that their woes cannot be dismissed or forgotten.
Health experts have been advising people to avoid public gatherings and contact with others.
These women have, for all these days, refused to evacuate the site even as concerns over their vulnerability to the pandemic continue to grow, given their age. Meanwhile, students outside Jamia Millia Islamia have temporarily suspended their protest.
Jamia Coordination Committee member Suyash Tripathi said that the protest outside the varsity has been temporarily suspended. The committee urged the government to conduct more tests and provide adequate safety gear for health workers treating COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, volunteers at Shaheen Bagh said that starting from 7am, the entry and exit points to the protest site have been closed and all male protesters have been instructed to stay at home.
The women have been blocking a side of a road connecting southeast Delhi to Noida since mid-December to protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Not more than 50 women had been staging the protest at any given time. All the mattresses have been removed and cots have been placed.
In a symbolic gesture, the women have left their slippers on top of the cots, to register their voice of dissent.
They are taking all precautions including washing hands regularly and sitting on cots five metres apart.
On Monday, 16 March, the Delhi government said gatherings with more than 50 people were not allowed in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The size of gatherings has since been reduced to 20 people.
"It also applies to Shaheen Bagh," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said.
Earlier this morning, Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker appealed to ‘the amazing dadis of Shaheen Bagh and all the feisty women and people of the sit-in protests across the country’ to temporarily suspend their protests.
She shared a video on Instagram advocating self-quarantine, isolation and social distancing to lessen the speed with which this virus spreads.
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