Spontaneous response to 'janata curfew' in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh

Chandigarh, Mar 22 (PTI) Streets, roads and public places in Punjab, Haryana and the common capital of the two states, Chandigarh, wore a deserted look on Sunday as people chose to stay at home in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a 'janata curfew' to check the spread of the coronavirus.

The 14-hour-long 'janata curfew' is part of a social-distancing exercise to help stop the spread of the virus. It began at 7 am and will end at 9 pm.

Responding to the prime minister's call, people chose to stay indoors. Only a few people ventured out to purchase essentials like milk and medicines.

Shops and commercial establishments remained shut as traders supported the prime minister's appeal while buses stayed off the roads.

Hours after the 'janata curfew' began, the Congress government in Punjab announced a lockdown in the entire state till March 31 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

'Ordered statewide lockdown till 31st March to check spread of Covid 19,' Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said in a tweet.

He informed that all essential and government services would continue during the lockdown.

The Chandigarh administration also imposed restrictions in the Union Territory till March 31, including suspension of public transport, shutting down of offices, schools, colleges and business establishments, to prevent the spread of the infection and advised people to stay indoors during the period and not to come out unless there was an urgency.

Chandigarh's famous Sukhna Lake, which used to bustle with morning walkers, wore a deserted look. Boating activities have already been suspended in the lake.

The markets also wore a deserted look and only the shops selling essential items like milk, bread and medicines were open.

'We have to help the government combat the pandemic, which has gripped the world. We as citizens too have an equal responsibility to ensure that there is no spread of the coronavirus in the community,' Baldev, an elderly resident of Chandigarh, said.

'Staying indoors for the next few days or till whatever time the government orders is the best option if we have to check the spread of the deadly virus,' Aditya, a Class 10 student, said.

In Punjab, reports of shops and other establishments remaining shut came in from various places, including Mohali, Zirakpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Bathinda, Amritsar and Patiala.

The number of devotees visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar fell drastically and the heritage street leading to it wore a deserted look.

At some places, the civic authorities could be seen sanitising crowded places including bus stands and railway stations.

In Ludhiana, policemen used loudspeakers from PCR vans in the morning, asking people to stay indoors.

Likewise, several places in Haryana, including Panchkula, Ambala, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Sonipat and Karnal, wore a deserted look as people preferred to stay indoors.

In Rohtak, the civic authorities pressed 18 fire tenders into service to sanitise the public places and building complexes that are thronged by the public.

Only a few private vehicles could be seen plying on the busy Delhi-Ambala and Delhi-Ambala-Jalandhar-Pathankot national highways.

In Sonipat, Subhash Chowk, which used to be congested with traffic even on Sundays, wore a deserted look. PTI SUN VSD RC