On Tuesday morning, Shaheen Bagh Delhi, Shahi Eidgah, and Hauz Rani protest sites were cleared by the Delhi Police. Amidst the lockdown, the Police came to Shaheen Bagh and forced women sitting in protest to leave, they pulled down the tents both at the protest site at Jamia and Shaheen Bagh. They also went on a cleanup spree and covered up the slogans, protest artwork that was painted on the walls near Shaheen Bagh and Jamia. Women at Shaheen Bagh were doing a symbolic protest and nobody was in contact and they had ensured all precautionary measures, but the police forcefully tore everything down.
— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2020
The southeast deputy commissioner of police told ANI “People at the protest site in Shaheen Bagh were requested today to clear the site as lockdown has been imposed. But after they refused, action was taken against violators as the assembly was unlawful. Protest site has been cleared. Some protestors have been detained,”
While the rationale behind why the women were moved can still be debated, there is no rational reasoning as to why the police felt the need to cover up all the protest art and tear down the tents. Social Distancing was only an excuse to cover up everything that the protest stands for. Shaheen Bagh was in its 101st day of protest when the police came to tear down the protest site. The police were in riot gear and detained 11 protestors near the site.
This is insanity! Resistance art on walls of Jamia Millia Islamia being whitewashed at the time when these workers should have been at home. Shows that removing Shaheen Bagh protest site this morning wasn't only about Coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/0fd2d1gMRT
— Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa (@vijdankawoosa) March 24, 2020
The Bangalore Bagh was also cleared Tuesday morning. The police broke into Bilal Bagh, seized the area, and dismantled the site. The women at Bilal Bagh chanted slogans as the police tore down the protest site.
In Lucknow, the protest has been suspended by the women as a precautionary measure against COVID-19. The protest site in Lucknow has been kept intact and women have left their dupattas at the site in a symbolic gesture. The Mumbai Bagh has also suspended its protest temporarily. The site at the Mumbai Bagh has also been kept intact and a symbolic protest will continue both online and on the ground.
All the Baghs were taking precautionary measures and did not have more than 5 people at the protest site at any given time. These women sat through police brutality, rain, cold, and even when the footfall at the site was low. These protests have for the time being moved to the online space and people have been asked to continue the protest online. For now, Shaheen Bagh Delhi has called off the protest but the women have promised that they will return to protest once the COVID-19 situation settles down.