Defying government advisories to avoid large gatherings as precaution against coronavirus, more than 5,000 people took to the streets in Chennai today in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, delivering a frightening scenario of the virus infecting people at an exponential rate.
India, at stage 2 of the outbreak (meaning the virus is still locally transmitted), has taken several measures to stop its spread, including shutting down public places.
In what could become a nightmare for those fighting the virus, a huge crowd gathered at the Chepauk area near Marina Beach demanding the withdrawal of the controversial citizenship law and a resolution in the Tamil Nadu assembly against the CAA, National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
The protesters, all members of the group Thowheeth Jamaat, also held similar demonstrations in other districts.
Holding placards against the CAA, NRC and NPR, the protesters raised slogans that conveyed that while coronavirus had taken three lives, the citizenship law protests had claimed the lives of 80 people across the country.
Protests swept across the country at the start of the year over the CAA, which paves the way for Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from neighbouring Muslim countries if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015. Critics fear the law discriminates against Muslims, and can be used, along with the NPR and NRC, to target them.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, various state governments have banned large gatherings and crowded events to contain the spread of the deadly virus that has infected 200,000 worldwide.
Late last night, a 33-day protest by Muslim women at Washermanpet, dubbed Chennai's Shaheen Bagh, was called off in solidarity with the country's fight against Carona Virus.
Around 3,500 Muslim women had been gathering there every day to protest.
DMK Chief MK Stalin and actor-politician Kamal Haasan too had appealed to protesters to suspend their agitation.
Tamil Nadu is on a partial lockdown to fight the spread of coronavirus. Schools, colleges, theatres, malls, gyms, hotels and resorts have been shut down till March 31.
The state government has also advised people to avoid large gatherings at places of worship. Today, authorities in Thanjavur closed the world-famous temple to visitors.