Bengaluru: Coronavirus can’t stop us, say Bilal Bagh protesters

Last Updated : 15 March 2020, 21:36 IST
Last Updated : 15 March 2020, 21:36 IST

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Organisers of the city’s longest-running Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest said they will defy the government’s call to end public assemblies in the wake of the Covid-19 danger.

Those organising the Bilal Bagh protest, which entered its 37th day on Sunday, have no intentions of budging, despite police pressure to disband.

“To shut this place down means defeat for the anti-CAA movement. We are fighting for our very future,” an organiser said. “Coronavirus might kill only some of the time, but the BJP’s actions threaten to do more damage.”

On March 14, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced the decision to close “all malls, cinema theatres, multiplexes, exhibition halls, pubs and any public gatherings like marriages and conferences” for one week to curb the spread of the virus.

One of Bilal Bagh’s four frontal organisers defended the move to continue, saying novel methods are enacted to ensure safety and hygiene. They said they are freely distributing homemade hand sterilisers — with ethanol and glycerin as raw materials — to hundreds of people at the site.

Won’t shut protest site, says police chief

City police commissioner Bhaskar Rao said he has no intentions of intervening to close down the site. “It (Bilal Bagh) was never a priority for me and frankly, we have other priorities such as limiting the spread of coronavirus in the city,” he said.

When pressed about the possibility that Bilal Bagh could become a hub of infection, Rao said he would take action when the protest threatens law and order.

Pitched the same question at Bilal Bagh, where the atmosphere was one of determination, emergency physician volunteer Dr Danish Ahmed downplayed the seriousness of the disease. “We feel the BJP is making a mountain out of a molehill.”

Protesters said buying branded hand sanitisers is out of the question due to their limited stock and high cost.

“Our homemade solution comes to about Rs 50 per 500 ml,” an organiser said.

Dr Ahmed added they are planning to distribute handmade face masks with tissue paper and rubber from Monday, while holding awareness sessions on preventing the Covid-19 infection.

Published 15 March 2020, 18:53 IST

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