The protest at Shaheen Bagh against the contentious citizenship law, continuing through the harsh Delhi winter and much political turmoil, is now facing a formidable challenge - the outbreak of coronavirus, a global pandemic which has killed more than 5,000 people. Containing the outbreak in its second stage - when it is out of an airport and in the hinterland - is crucial.
Over the last couple of weeks, state after state has shut schools, colleges, malls and cinema halls, discouraging large gatherings, where the virus can have a free run. Delhi, which has not yet shut malls, on Monday banned weekly markets and all gatherings by more than 50 people amid a series of fresh measures to contain the highly contagious virus.
"No religious, social, cultural and political gatherings comprising more than 50 people will be allowed in Delhi till March 31. The restriction is applicable to protests too," said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has also stopped the thrice-a-week grievance-redressal public meetings at his home.
To a reporter's question whether this would apply to the protest at Shaheen Bagh, the Chief Minister replied, "It would apply to all except weddings", which the government is not encouraging either.
The unique sit-in protest at Shaheen Bagh, conducted mostly by women, has been on for more than 90 days. The peaceful protest, which inspired similar demonstrations across the country, has made international headlines. Even at the peak of discontent over the protest - ahead of the Delhi assembly election, when a section of BJP leaders made hate speeches against it - the government has not taken any action.
Amid the countrywide scare over coronavirus, the women at Shaheen Bagh had said the protesters were being provided with masks and hand sanitisers and there was no need to be scared, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
Seven people have tested positive for coironavirus in Delhi, one of them has died.