Delhi roads wear deserted look during 'Janta curfew'

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) Delhi woke up to empty streets on Sunday with people confining themselves to homes and vehicles off the road in view of the 14-hour 'Janta curfew' initiated to check the spread of coronavirus.

Barring shops selling essential commodities and pharmacies, all other establishments remained closed as the self-imposed curfew began at 7 am.

Most of the people in the city skipped their morning walks while religious places curtailed activities as part of social distancing.

All through the day, services of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation were suspended on Sunday in view of the 'Janta curfew' while half of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were off the roads.

DTC and cluster buses were seen running without any passengers. The inter-state bus terminals in the city too wore a deserted look.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that only 50 per cent of buses would ply on roads considering that some people might have to travel due to emergency.

A large number of autorickshaws and taxis too were off the roads.

The Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh, Delhi Pradesh Transport Union, Delhi Auto Taxi Transport Congress Union and the Delhi Taxi Tourist Transport Association followed the 'Janta curfew'.

'No passengers or buses from any state were there at Kashmiri Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar inter-state bus terminals,' said a transport department official.

The inter-state private bus operators also suspended their operations in view of the 'Janta curfew'.

'The private buses plying between Delhi and other states also did not operate from 7 am onwards,' Shyamlal Gola, president of All India Luxury Bus Union, said.

He said the union members will distribute one lakh masks and sanitisers to the poor at the three inter-state bus terminals in the city on Monday.

Pitching for social distancing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed the 14-hour-long 'Janta curfew' to contain the spread of coronavirus.

In a bid to make the 'Janta curfew' a huge success, the Delhi Police had appealed to people through Twitter to remain at home.

Those who stepped out of their homes were greeted with roses by Delhi Police personnel and were requested to stay indoors.

'We are on the roads for your safety. Please stay at home!! Policemen giving flowers to motorists requesting them to stay at home. Please support us!!,' Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Eish Singhal tweeted.

As the clock struck five, balconies in Delhi turned into makeshift performance venues with people coming out to clap, bang steel plates, blow conches and ring bells to boost the morale of doctors and other workers employed in taking care of coronavirus patients.

JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said it was a moment of emotional connect and solidarity with the rest of nation.

'At 5.00 PM today during 'Janta curfew', it was a moment of emotional connect and solidarity with the rest of nation, when the entire JNU campus reverberated with sounds as we saluted all those who are working tirelessly for combating coronavirus,' Kumar said in a statement.

In south Delhi's Kailash Hills area, doctor couple Sandeep Jangra and Mona Sharma, joined by their family members, saluted the spirit of doctors through their gesture from the balcony.

While Jangra blew a conch, his son Chaitanya, 12, rang a small damroo and daughter Suhani, 10, banged a 'thali' with a spoon, as their neighbours also did the same from their balconies.

'We want to say thank you to all who are serving humanity whole putting their own lives at risk. This social act will not only boost the morale of our doctors and other workers combating this COVID-19 outbreak, but also connect society to act in unison on promoting healthy lifestyle and not feel panicky,' Jangra, a dentist, said.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, only five women at Shaheen Bagh sat on protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act while the rest of them left their slippers at the venue to mark their presence.

'We are following the guidelines related to coronavirus. We have reduced our gathering to permissible number. We have been cleaning and sanitising the venue. Sanitisers are also made available,' a volunteer said.

People spent time with their family, read books, cooked and lived their hobbies as the 'Janta curfew' gave them a break from the otherwise fast-paced life.

For south Delhi resident Gunjan Dutta, 37, it was a time to play his flute after a long time.

'It's been a good day, peaceful. I watched TV, spent time with parents, chipped with my mother and wife to help them in kitchen. I sat in the balcony listening to birds, it was such a good feeling. I got time to play my flute after a long time... This is such a good break from the otherwise fast-paced life,' he said.

He further added that 'such a curfew should take place twice a month. It's good for all of us.' PTI PR KND SLB RB UK KIS SNE SNE SNE