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Police lear Shaheen Bagh protest as Delhi goes in coronavirus lockdown

NEW DELHI: As the Arvind Kejriwal government enforced a strict curfew in the national capital on Tuesday to prevent the spread of coronavirus outbreak, the Delhi Police launched an early morning crackdown at anti-CAA protest sites, including Shaheen Bagh — the longest running agitation in the country.

The police removed barricading, tents, posters and other paraphernalia from road No 13 A in the area, where the sit-in was on for more than three months against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The road, which connects southeastern Delhi and Noida, was closed since the protest had begun. In a tweet, the Delhi Traffic Police said, “Road no 13 A has been cleared for vehicular movement.” A venue in Nizamuddin area was vacated on Monday night. The other locations that were cleared on Tuesday morning included Malviya Nagar, Hauz Rani, Jaffrabad, Turkman Gate and Jamia Millia Islamia, according to police officials. Ten persons were arrested for violating prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC.

Locals gathered at protest site despite large presence of cops

“IN the morning of 24.03.2020, an appeal was made to the protestors to remove themselves from the site in view of the lock down situation, prohibitory order issued and epidemic situation of CORONA but they did not move from the site. All the obstruction including the titched on the road were also removed. A case was registered and 10 persons (4 men and 6 women) have been arrested,” said RP Meena, Deputy Comm i s s i o n e r o f Po l i c e , Southeast Delhi. “The protest site has been cleared. Some protesters have been detained. The posters and the tents have been confiscated.

The national flag at the protest site was carefully brought down,” he added. Locals had earlier gathered in large numbers even as paramilitary personnel and Delhi police reached Shaheen Bagh at around 7 am. The police tried to impress upon them the exigency due the pandemic, but were unsuccessful in convincing them. Later, they used force to clear the area.

To thwart any future attempt at such gatherings, heavy police deployment has been put in place. Security forces also conducted a flag march in the lanes. The protest at Shaheen Bagh had begun on December 15 against the contentious law passed in the Parliament on December 11 and had faced criticism from certain sections, especially the right-wing organisations.

Since the outbreak of COVID- 19 and restrictions thereafter, a few women protesters had continued to camp at the Shaheen Bagh site. Another protest site in Hauz Rani was cleared at 7 am. However, none were detained or arrested. “Only two-three protesters were there… After we made an appeal, they left the spot,” Atul Kumar Thakur, DCP (South) said.

Cleaning to follow

According to officials in South MCD, the civic body will now clean up  the site and try to repair the
damage. The PWD will also carry out repair and cleaning in the area