Sounds of bells, conches fill the air as grateful country appreciates essential service providers; PM say long battle ahead

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) The air reverberated with a medley of sounds on Sunday evening as people across the country rang bells, blew conches and clapped to express appreciation for medical and other staff who are on the frontline of the battle against the Coronavirus.

From children to the elderly, common people to VIPs, all came out in balconies, lawns and terrace of their homes as the clock struck five, following an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show gratitude to doctors, paramedics, police and other personnel associated with essential services when the country was observing an unprecedented 'Janta Curfew' on Sunday to check the spread of the virus.

Many took positions with their choice of instruments, including metal plates or whatever kitchen utensils they could get, while some played the sounds of conches and bells on their phones and music systems. Police sirens were also heard at India Gate and in other parts of the national capital.

Prime Minister Modi thanked the people for the gesture.

Taking to Twitter, he said it is an expression of gratitude by the people and also the sound of the bugle declaring the first success in the long battle ahead.

'With this resolve and patience, let's restrict (social distancing) ourselves as part of this long battle,' Modi tweeted in Hindi with the hashtag 'Jantacurfew'.

Earlier, he had reminded people to express their gratitude towards those who have been at the forefront of combating coronavirus, and extending essential services without fearing for their safety.

In his address to the nation on Thursday, he had lauded the hard work of medical professionals, sanitation staff, airline crews, delivery persons and media personnel among others.

Modi had asked people to express gratitude to them by giving them a five-minute standing ovation at 5 pm on Sunday by clapping hands, beating plates or ringing bells.

Top BJP leaders, including its president J P Nadda, Union ministers like Rajnath Singh and Dharmendra Pradhan, and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla participated along with their family members and staff.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath rang a bell while his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar along with the staff and security personnel deployed at his residence were beating 'thalis'.

In Chennai, AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami joined his cabinet colleagues and top officials who clapped to show their appreciation for doctors, paramedics, sanitary and health department personnel. PTI TEAM RT