Gujarat observes 'Janata curfew', applauds Covid-19 warriors

(Eds: Updates with quotes, details) Ahmedabad, Mar 22 (PTI) Cities in Gujarat wore a deserted look on Sunday as people stayed inside their houses to support the pan-India 'Janata curfew' call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help check the spread of coronavirus whose cases are steadily increasing in the country.

At 5 pm, as appealed by Modi, a large number of people briefly emerged in their balconies and rooftops of buildings to clap hands, clang plates and blow conch shells to express their heart-felt gratitude to thousands of health workers, emergency service providers, professionals and other personnel working silently to control the pandemic.

Modi's nonagenarian mother Hiraba, who resides near Gandhinagar, was seen in a video beating thali.

Streets were empty, shops and business establishments remained shut, roads, railway stations and airports in major cities wore a deserted look as the home state of Modi gave an overwhelming response to his curfew call.

As a large number of people came out to beat thalis in a locality in Ahmedabad, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani appealed to members of the public to maintain social distancing to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

He also urged people in the home state of Modi not to emerge out of their houses in large numbers after the Janata curfew is over.

Rupani said lockdown in five cities as well as in Kutch district till March 25 should be strictly followed by people.

During this period, all non-essential shops and establishments will remain shut.

Sounds of beating thalis, whistles, conch shells and even fire crackers filled the air in Ahmedabad and other cities of the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel posted a video on his Twitter handle ringing the bell, while his wife was seen clanging thali.

Other state ministers and celebrities also posted photos and videos on social media platforms expressing their gratitude to people in frontline of fighting the deadly virus.

Earlier in the day, some people were detained in different parts of the state when they came out in groups or were seen playing cricket on roads in violation of section 144 of the CrPC which has been imposed to ban assembly of people as part of measures to contain the Covid-19 spread.

Thanking the people of Gujarat for observing Janata curfew, Rupani appealed to the residents of five major cities -- Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot-- and also Kutch district to continue to remain indoors till Wednesday.

In his address to the public via social media, Rupani said that in one locality in Ahmemdabad, people were seen gathered in large numbers to beat thalis and blow conch shells, and even moving around in the evening.

This defeated the the very purpose of Janata curfew and social distancing which are part of measures to contain the further spread of the killer pathogen, he said.

'As we are moving into the third stage of the coronavirus pandemic (community transmission), we will have to ensure it does not spread in the society.

'Even after 9 pm, when the Janata curfew ended, do not go out on the roads.

'We have ordered a lockdown so that people do not gather,' he said and implored citizens to follow shutdown protocols diligently 'to defeat the coronavirus.' During the curfew period, public transport services, including buses of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC), and private vehicles remained off roads.

Services of the Ahmedabad Metro were also suspended.

Gujarat has so far recorded 18 cases of the coronavirus and registered its first fatality from the disease on Sunday. PTI KA PD GK RSY RSY