As experts recommend social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in Chennai, on 18 March, at least 3,000 people took to the streets protesting the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The hundreds of members of a local Islamic outfit, Thowheeth Jamaath, called for a massive ‘Jail Bharo’ protest in 36 places across Tamil Nadu.
They demanded that the Centre revoke the controversial legislations and vowed to continue their fight until the Tamil Nadu Assembly passes a resolution to put on hold CAA and NRC.
The state has recorded only one positive case so far who has now been treated and discharged. Tamil Nadu had confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 7 March when a 45-year-old man who recently visited Oman tested positive. On Tuesday, a woman was tested positive in Mahe, Puducherry.
As part of the precautionary measures, the state government issued an order on Monday, instructing all educational establishments, malls, theatres and supermarkets to be shut till 31 March. The notice also stated that no permission will be granted for rallies, public meetings, summer camps, conferences, exhibitions, cultural or sporting events.
However, sources close to the organisers said that they had planned this protest even before the outbreak and the government advisory dictates that pre-planned events can carry on as usual. And so they were well within their rights to go ahead with the protest.
While, the whole world is sanitising and taking precautions to stop the spread of the #coronavirus pandemic, thousands took took to the streets IN #Chennai demanding the #TamilNadu Assembly pass a resolution against the controversial #CAA_NRC_NPR @TheQuint #coronavirusindia pic.twitter.com/7hzJin3pXd— Smitha T K (@smitha_tk) March 18, 2020
Some protesters raised slogans that ‘even coronavirus has killed only three but CAA have killed more than 80 so far in India.’
Some others stated that they would rather ‘die of corona than live as a refugee in this land.’
Police personnel were seen wearing face masks.
Many took to social media to call the group irresponsible.
Chennai literate folks setting example of protests. Thousands gathering outside HC . NRC over LIFE. Embracing corona.— surekbat (@surekbat) March 18, 2020
Meanwhile, the massive gathering at Chennai’s very own Shaheen Bagh in Old Washermanpet decided to call off their protest in the wee hours of 18 March, that is on the 34th day.
“For the welfare of the people, we have decided to temporarily call off the protest against CAA and NRC. Once the situation gets better, we would continue our protests with renewed vigour till the TN Assembly passes a resolution against CAA-NPR-NRC,” a statement read.
#ChennaiShaheenBagh in Old #washermanpet area has temporarily called off their protest due to the #CoronavirusOutbreak— Smitha T K (@smitha_tk) March 18, 2020
Organisers said they will resume their protest until the #TNAssembly passes a resolution against #CAA_NPR_NRC.@TheQuint #covidindia pic.twitter.com/6Myw54MIrd
Currently, 2,635 passengers are under home quarantine in Tamil Nadu for 28 days and 24 are under hospital isolation. So far, 147 samples have been tested of which 95 turned out to be negative and 51 are under process.
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