Janata curfew: People stay indoors, shops closed and roads deserted
New Delhi, Mar 22: An unprecedented shutdown commenced across the country on Sunday morning on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for a 'Janata curfew' to help check the spread of coronavirus.
As the 'Janata curfew' got underway at 7 am, people largely kept themselves indoor as part of the social distancing exercise to stop the spread of the virus and bare number of public transport vehicles plied on nearly empty roads.
All markets and establishments except those dealing in essential goods and services will be closed for the day.
States like Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Bihar have announced either complete or partial lockdown till month end. No passenger train will originate from any railway station in the country from midnight to 10 pm on Sunday while all suburban train services will be reduced to a bare minimum as well. Metro services, including in Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, will remain suspended for the day.
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.
Modi had on Thursday called for the 'Janata curfew' from 7 am to 9 pm on March 22, saying no citizen, barring those in essential services, should get out of their houses, and asserted that it will be a litmus test to show India's readiness to take on the coronavirus challenge. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has asked chief secretaries of all states to ensure that the 'Janata Curfew' is observed properly and to see that local bodies, fire services, police and civil defence blow sirens or ring bells on Sunday evening to express gratitude towards those involved in tackling the disease.
In Delhi, 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'.
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.