Police clear anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh amid coronavirus lockdown

Police vacate anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh amid coronavirus outbreak
Women hold placards during a sit-in protest against CAA, NRC and NPR and in support of Janta curfew in the wake of deadly coronavirus, at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Protestors against the citizenship law who were based at the Shaheen Bagh locality were vacated by the Delhi Police on Tuesday morning in light of the coronavirus lockdown currently on in the national capital, officials said.

The women agitators have been on a sit-in at Shaheen Bagh for over three months, protesting against the newly amended Citizenship Act.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (southeast) R P Meena said people at the protest venue in Shaheen Bagh were requested to vacate the site as lockdown has been imposed due to coronavirus outbreak.

However, when they refused action was taken and they were vacated, the official said.

Those violating the lockdown in Delhi will face strict action, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned on Monday as many people ignored instructions to stay at home on the first day and large crowds were seen at interstate bus terminals and other places despite prohibitory orders, sparking concerns about the spread of coronavirus

Traffic crawled on the Delhi borders as police barricaded roads and conducted thorough checks on those entering the national capital. Doctors, patients going to hospitals, media personnel and those involved in essential services were allowed to pass. All satellites cities --- Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon --- saw traffic jams.

Admitting that "execution" of the prohibitory orders in the city was "not up to the mark today", the Delhi Police moved to seal all border pickets and said curfew passes will be issued to people associated with essential services.

On Sunday, police imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Delhi till March 31 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, banning assembly of four or more people in one place.

Kejriwal said the people should observe the lockdown in place in the national capital to contain the spread of coronavirus or they will face strict action.

Any person contravening prohibitory order shall be punishable under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of Indian Penal Code, officials said.

The essential services excluded from restrictions include law and order and magisterial duty, police, health, fire, prisons, fair price shops, electricity, water, municipal services, print and electronic media, teller operations including ATMs, food items, groceries, general provision stores, take-away delivery in restaurants, petrol pumps, LPG cylinder agencies, e-commerce of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

The death toll in India due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to nine on Monday after West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh reported a casualty each, while the number of confirmed cases soared to 468, the Union Health Ministry said.