Modi’s ‘Janata Curfew’ underway across India
The streets were emptied of people and most modes of transport, and markets downed shutters across India as the country of 130 crore people plunged into an unprecedented shutdown, responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for a "Janata Curfew" to help check the spread of coronavirus.
As the 14-hour curfew went into force at 7am today local time, people largely kept themselves indoors, as part of the social distancing exercise to stop the spread of the virus that has affected 315 people and claimed four lives.
All markets and establishments, except those dealing in essential goods and services, were closed for the day.
The curfew will end at 9pm today.
Ahead of the start of the curfew, Modi tweeted, "Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against the Covid-19 menace."
He said the steps to be taken now will help in the times to come. "Stay indoors and stay healthy," he said on Twitter.
In Delhi, the roads were empty with just some private vehicles and buses plying. Vendors were off the roads in the morning hours with people confining themselves to their homes.
In Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment hub, the usually bustling western and eastern express highways and other arterial roads looked empty.
The same was the situation in Mumbai's suburban train stations that normally see thousands of commuters jostling to get inside the overcrowded trains.
Cutting across political divides, chief ministers and others leaders have urged the people to follow the self-imposed curfew, noting that "social distancing" would help contain the spread of the number of coronavirus cases, which recorded 60 new cases on Saturday, the highest so far in a day.
States like Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Bihar have announced either complete or partial lockdown till this month-end.
No passenger train will start from any railway station in the country from midnight to 10pm today while all suburban train services will be curtailed to a bare minimum as well.
Metro rail 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 today.
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 said the curfew would be a litmus test to show India's readiness to take on the coronavirus challenge.
In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said 50 percent 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 the roads in the national capital as several unions have decided to join the curfew.
Most people in the city skipped their morning walks, while religious places curtailed activities as part of social distancing.
Services of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation were suspended today, while half of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were off the roads.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the capital mounted to 27 on Saturday, according to the Delhi Health Department.
The streets of Kolkata wore an empty look and public places remained deserted.
Mostly those engaged in essential services were seen on the roads travelling to work.