New Delhi: In what appears to be a trial for ordering restrictions on regular movement of people in the future to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged all citizens to observe a 14-hour 'Janata Curfew' on Sunday, between 7am and 9pm.
During this curfew that Modi described as one "for the people, observed by the people, all but those involved in providing essential services, will have to stay indoors. Modi said the success of this effort and the experiences from it will prepare the country for the challenges ahead.
The PM also asked citizens to express their gratitude for those tirelessly working in tackling the coronavirus spread by coming out at doors, balconies and windows to clap for them at 5pm on Sunday.
“This Sunday, on March 22, from 7am to 9pm, all countrymen have to follow the Janata Curfew. During this curfew, no citizen should step out of their homes, on the roads, neighbourhoods or within the premises of their apartment complex. Stay inside your homes. Naturally those working to provide essential services will have to step out. Because it is their duty,” he said.
He also talked about war-time blackouts that were a common feature during the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan. “During wartime, people used to cover their windows with black sheets and even during peacetime, civic bodies used to conduct mock drills for blackouts.”
The blackouts were adopted to cover lighting at nights, as a measure to prevent aiding the air force of the enemy from attacking residential enclaves.
China, Italy, Iran, Germany, Spain and France, some of the countries severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, have put cities and towns under lockdown ordering people to not step out unless they have sought permissions or unless extremely necessary.
China's lockdown has lasted for almost two months now, especially in the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
Modi appealed to state governments to lead the way in enforcing the 'janata curfew' and asked the National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme, youth organisations, civil society organisations and even religions organisations to spread the word on the effort.
Speaking on the need to express gratitude for those working to provide essential services, the PM said, the country is indebted to them because they are risking infections by performing their duties.
“For the past 2 months, those in hospitals, at airports, offices, in cities, conservancy workers, airline staff, policemen, mediapersons, railway staff, those doing home deliveries are working tirelessly. Without caring for others, these people are serving others.”
“These services are extraordinary. They are also facing the risk of getting infected, despite that they are fulfilling their duties and are trying to help others. In their own way, they are performing the work of protecting others. The country is indebted to all such people.”
"On Sunday, we should thank all such people. At exactly 5pm, we should come out at the door, on balconies and windows and for 5 minutes, and thank all the people doing their work. We should clap, ring bells, salute them and motivate them," he said, adding a siren will be played by the local administrations to remind people to come to their doors, balconies and windows.