After 45 days of continuous protest, braving heat, cold and threats, Bengaluru’s Bilal Bagh, modelled on Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, called off the 24/7 sit-in protest against divisive Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) over the outbreak of COVID-19 and the state-wide lockdown announced by Chief Minister Yediyurappa on Monday, 24 March.
Similar protests in Mumbai, Lucknow and other places were temporarily called off due to coronavirus. In Delhi, the police cleared the protest site at Shaheen Bagh, which had become the epicentre of protests against CAA and NRC.
The organisers of Bilal Bagh, through a letter, announced that the protest shall continue with only 5 people standing at a distance and the rest of the campaign will go online.
The threat of the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t deterred the hundreds of women, protesting at Bilal Bagh. In spite of the government shutdown of schools, colleges, malls, cinema halls and large events, their demonstration went as usual.
The organisers had taken to freely distribute homemade hand sterilisers, face masks and other novel methods to ensure safety and hygiene at the site.
In a video shared by volunteers last week, protesters could be seen cleaning chairs, surfaces, and people being sanitised upon entry to the site.
Bilal Bagh takes lead in precautionary measures against Corona Virus.
Every exposed part is cleaned and Sanitized periodically.Every protestors is checked @ the entrance for any flu-like symptoms, and if found are directed to govt hospital.Ample hand sanitizers are used at entry pic.twitter.com/Lwny4dhCqC
— Bengaluru Bagh (@BangaloreBagh) March 18, 2020
However, in the wake of ongoing lockdown in Bengaluru due to rising coronavirus cases in the city, and across the country, the organisers finally decided to suspend the protest, until the pandemic is contained.
Dr Danish Ahmed, a physician and a volunteer said that the protest will raise back again, at an appropriate time. As of now, the organisers are planning to distribute ration and relief materials to those who are suffering during the lockdown.
“We will continue our dissent by saving the nation and the citizens,” he said.