Delhi Police clears Shaheen Bagh, ending anti-CAA protests

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 24, 2020

Delhi Police cleared Shaheen Bagh, halting the 3.5-month long agitation against the CAA-NRC-NPR by various organisations   -  Reuters

Protesters say move was voluntary amid coronavirus fears, police claim forced clearing

The Delhi Police cleared Shaheen Bagh here on Tuesday, halting the 3.5-month long agitation against the CAA-NRC-NPR by various organisations. The protesters said the police action was based on their request to clear the road so that no person suffers in the event of the spread of Covid-19.

One of the organisers of the agitation, Sultan Sheikh, told BusinessLine that it was not a police crackdown. “We had informed the Delhi Police that we will temporarily stop the agitation in view of Covid-19 and the decision of the governments to enforce a lockdown. We do not want anyone to suffer because of the blockade of the road. So the protest site was cleared by the Police after a mutual agreement,” Sheikh told BusinessLine.

Sheikh added that the future of the protests will be decided once the lockdown is over. “Once this Covid-19 situation is over, we will hold discussions with like-minded organisations, trade unions and farmers’ outfits about the next step,” he said. It is learnt that there were differences among the protesters over clearing the venue.

The protest near Jamia Millia Islamia has also been cleared by the Police. The graffiti drawn by protesters on university’s walls, too, was cleared by the administration.

‘Protesters refused to move’

The Delhi Police, however, gave a different version of the event. It said the protesters were not ready to leave the venue despite requests. “A total of nine protesters, including six women, were detained and taken to a nearby police station,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (southeast) RP Meena said. “People were requested to vacate the site as a lockdown has been imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, action was taken when refused to move,” Meena added.

The Shaheen Bagh protests, led mainly by women, became a model for anti-CAA agitations. Such protests were launched by organisations at many parts of the country in December and January. Many such similar protests were also stopped after the reports of Covid-19 cases.

Published on March 24, 2020

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