Mumbai, March 22 (IANS) Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra wore a deserted look as people remained indoors for the voluntary ‘janata curfew’ to arrest the spread of coronavirus, here on Sunday.
With two deaths in four days and 74 positive cases, Maharashtra has the highest number of Covid-19 patients in the country, with test results of many suspected people awaited.
As panic bells started ringing, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray this evening clamped a near-total lockdown in the state — from midnight till March 31 — with strict prohibitory orders right up to panchayats.
On Sunday, since 7 a.m, all roads, highways, railway stations, Metro, mono-rail, city and state transport buses were deserted with people staying put at home.
In the morning, the Railway Ministry announced closure of the country’s sprawling passenger trains network till March 31, barring freight trains.
Of the few people who strayed onto the roads or stations, the police checked their identity cards and only those genuinely out for essential service missions were permitted.
Later in the evening, celebs and commoners, including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, his family members, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and other party leaders, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar, and more responded enthusiastically to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s to clap, ring bells or clang utensils to applaud the services of the medical fraternity to the coronavirus-hit people.
In many areas, people also chanted the Gayatri Mantra and sang bhajans, blew conchs or cymbals, cheered, whistled and raised slogans in favour of the medical and para-medical fraternity who toil day and night in various hospitals.
Moving a step ahead, the NCP directed its MPs not to return to New Delhi and instead help the Maharashtra government in the ongoing ‘war against virus’.
In Pune, the Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association chief Uday Lodh led the people in lauding the employees of the fuel distributors who ignore risks to keep people on the move at all times.
All public areas, beaches, grounds, gardens, sanctuaries and parks, religious places, hill stations, monuments, picnic spots, pilgrim destinations and others were bereft of the crowd that throngs these spots in normal times.
Sporting protective masks in many areas, Mumbai and Maharashtra Police maintained a strong presence in the public to prevent any untoward incident during the ‘janata curfew’.