While it is true that like the whole world, India too has been challenged by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and is discouraging people to move into crowded places or venture out unnecessarily it has also posed an interesting question before the Indian government on a prominent anti-CAA resistance in its capital.
Yes, Delhi has been witnessing a massive protest movement primarily led by Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh. This movement is against the contentious citizenship act that had recently been passed. The critics feel that the CAA is against the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution and by making religion the basis of citizenship, it denies the minorities equality and dignity.
The Shaheen Bagh protest had captured the attention of not just the national media but also of the international media and was regarded by many as the epitome of women’s resistance in contemporary times.
But ever since the coronavirus reached India and the government began taking measures to close down malls, schools, markets, public parks, offices etc and appealing to people to stay a home instead of venturing outside, the protest site came under the scanner.
Should so many people meet and gather in times when the community transmission of the coronavirus is possible? Does such a gathering not pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of these women?
The women protestors of Shaheen Bagh have been confronted with this dilemma and have been asking whether they should continue with their protest or sit back at home unless the impact of the virus reduces.
PM Modi has urged people to remain inside their homes under a self-imposed curfew on Sunday. But the women protestors of Shaheen Bagh have decided to continue their protest even on Sunday. These women have been sitting on the protest since the middle of December 2019 against the CAA.
On Monday, in a statement issued by the government, it was announced that gatherings of more than 50 people will no longer be allowed in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The size of the gathering was later reduced to 20 people and the CM Arvind Kejriwal said that this rule also applied to Shaheen Bagh. However, the protestors have said that not more than 50 women had been staging the protest at any given time of the day.
The women said that on Sunday, they will sit under small tents(at the protest site. Only two women will sit under each tent and maintain a distance of more than a metre between them and take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus.
They also said that they had been washing their hands and taking all the necessary precautions too.
Meanwhile, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking that the Shaheen Bagh protest be removed as it could lead to community transmission of Covid-19.
The petition sought the immediate interference of the court in this matter and said that such a step had to be taken to ensure that the coronavirus didn’t reach its last stage or it could be out of hand.
India has 250 confirmed cases. 32 cases had been recorded in Delhi.