NEWS: India has gone into unofficial lockdown on Sunday as the mandatory 14-hour ‘Janata Curfew’ has been enforced. This comes in the as the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in India rose to 324 on Sunday.
The Janata Curfew began at 7 am and will last till 9 pm.
“This Sunday, that is on March 22, all citizens must follow this curfew from 7 am until 9 pm. During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes, nor get onto the streets and refrain from roaming about in our societies or areas. Only those associated with emergency and essential services leave their homes,” Modi said during his address to the nation.
The move was aimed at creating awareness about “social distancing” which is a powerful weapon in the fight against coronavirus. Ten minutes before 7 am, the Prime Minister in a tweet requested people to be part of ‘Janta Curfew’ to make the fight against coronavirus a success.
Meanwhile, China reported its first domestic coronavirus case after a gap of three days as the country saw a surge in imported infections, with 45 new cases.
Borders and rail services shut down
All markets and establishments except those dealing in essential goods and services will be closed for the day. The states of Karnataka, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan, Goa, West Bengal, Gujarat have locked down their borders as a precautionary measure.
As a precautionary measure, all passenger train service have been cancelled till 31 March, barring a few suburban train services that will be functional only till midnight on 22 March. All non-essential passenger transport including inter-state transport buses will also remain suspended till 31 March.
In the national capital, the roads were deserted with barely some private vehicles and buses plying. Vendors were off the roads in the morning hours with people confining themselves to their homes.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that 50 per cent of the buses will ply on roads on Sunday considering some people may have to travel due to an emergency.
Autos and taxis will, however, be off roads in the national capital as several unions including the Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh, Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union, Delhi Auto Taxi Transport Congress Union and Delhi Taxi Tourist Transport Association, have decided to join the ‘Janata curfew’.
In Mumbai, the usually bustling western and eastern express highways and other arterial roads looked empty as people stayed in their homes to support the curfew.
Same was the situation at the suburban train stations which normally see thousands of commuters jostling to get inside the overcrowded trains.
Streets of Kolkata wore an empty look and public places remained deserted on Sunday.
The usually bustling Esplanade, Dalhousie, airport and railway stations wore a deserted look as people stayed indoors to support the prime minister’s call.
Most of the towns and cities of Punjab and Haryana witnessed deserted streets with shops and business establishments closed to mark the pan-India solidarity.
Reports of the shutdown of shops and other establishments were received from the Congress-ruled Punjab’s Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda and other places.
In Chandigarh, a majority of shops were slowly opening in various sectors. People also avoided morning walks in the parks in their localities and the famed Sukhna Lake.
However, the supply of milk was normal.
In neighbouring BJP-ruled Haryana, establishments providing essential services like grocery shops, petrol pumps and medicine shops were opened.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has urged the people not to panic and strongly adhere to the appeal of the Prime Minister and stay indoors to prevent the coronavirus epidemic from spreading.
Air carriers like GoAir, IndiGo and Vistara have announced that they will be curtailing domestic operations on Sunday.
Traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has announced that they will keep their establishments shut across the country for the ‘Janata curfew’.
From suspending regular prayers involving large gatherings in shrines of various faiths, including Sunday mass, to disallowing jail inmates from meeting their families on the day, organisations and institutions in every sphere have announced restrictions.
Describing it as the need of the hour, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had asked everyone in the country to support the step.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu had also made a fervent appeal to the people of the country to confine themselves to homes. He said that since the virus spreads through physical contact, social distancing is an effective measure to contain its spread by avoiding contact during the incubation period of the virus.
“It is a matter of great assurance that people have responded very positively to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Saturday.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had also appealed to the people of the state to stay indoors on Sunday.
“Metro trains, roadways buses and city buses will not operate on Sunday,” the statement said on behalf of the chief minister.
“To curb this infection, we are working on a war footing. Isolation wards have been set up in every district hospital and medical college. So far, 23 patients have been identified in the state, out of which nine have completely recovered. There is no need to panic, but prepare yourself to fight against this challenge,” the UP chief minister had said in the statement.
Leaders and other prominent personalities also urged the traders not to hoard essential items and the people to purchase only necessary things.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.