View of Gateway of India in Mumbai on Sunday during Janata Curfew. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)
The maximum city responded well to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to observe 'Janata curfew' on Sunday and to applaud those who are providing essential services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. At most places in the city, people stayed indoors during the day, but at 5 pm, they came out and clapped and beat utensils to show solidarity with providers of essential services such as doctors, paramedics and police, among others. Some residents also took to playing guitars and bursting firecrackers to join in. Many in residential societies and on the streets also gathered to applaud, going against the objective of the social distancing exercise.
A policeman patrolling at Versova said, “We have been on the streets since morning to ensure that the situation is peaceful. Hardly anyone has stepped out and we did not have to insist on people staying inside.”
Besides the Prime Minister's address, being a Sunday and the coronavirus scare ensured that streets in most parts of the city were empty. Unlike its bustling character, the city was so silent during the day that many took to social media to talk about how they could hear birds chirping that had replaced the sound of traffic that has become a feature of the city. Apart from the odd vehicle or two, the roads only had police personnel and some stray animals.
The silence was, however, shattered around 4.55 pm as people assembled at windows, balconies and compounds to to show appreciation for providers of essential services. A large number of people in Andheri (East) stood in their balconies clapping, banging plates and blowing conch shells. Children also shouted in appreciation and many people chanted slogans such as 'Bharat mata ki jai' and 'Vande mataram'.
Several tried their hands at musical instruments such as dholak, flute and guitar, among others, in support of doctors and police. In four bungalows, a youngster climbed outside the window, put up a chair and played the guitar accompanied by songs. Some were also spotted bursting crackers against guidelines issued by the government. People were also seen in groups of more than five on streets near houses or at balconies.
Police personnel in Mumbai clanging plates as a mark of respect for those working during at front in the fight against the coronovirus. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)
At suburbs like Kandivali and Borivali, the clapping and clanging of plates begun at 4.50 pm and went on till 5.10 pm. People also blew conch shells, while others whistled and played drums. As the sounds of clapping and beating of thalis died down, several patriotic songs were played on loud speakers. Some residents of housing societies in Goregaon also played songs and chanted Minister of State Ramdas Athawale's 'Go Corona' slogan.
Residents of Swapnapurti LIG Housing Society Ltd started clapping, beating plates and utensils at 5 pm. “Doctors, conservancy staff, nurses, police, civic staff all are risking their lives to protect us. We want to thank them. My wife clapped and our two sons and I beat utensils to hail their services,” said Anil Waghmare, a resident.
In Kharghar area of Navi Mumbai, people started clapping, banging plates and blowing conch shells from 4.50 pm. However, a siren did not go off in the vicinity asking people to come out. Groups of women and children gathered at the common passage areas of the society and were out till 5.15 pm.
Areas such as Mohammad Ali Road in South Mumbai and Mumbra also saw a good response to the PM's appeal. A little before 5 pm, hundreds came out to their balconies around Nagpada, Mumbai Central and adjoining areas of Madanpura with plates to appreciate emergency services.
Bilal Shaikh, a resident of Agripada, said, “Doctors, nurses don't ask for our names and religion before catering to us. It is for them that we stand united in appreciating their efforts.”
Many uploaded videos on social media where people in societies and those on the streets had gathered in groups. In Four Bungalows, soon after the exercise was over, several people gathered on the streets and chanted slogans, ignoring precautionary measures, such as social distancing, against the spread of COVID-19.