‘Stay where you are,’ Modi declares 3-week country-wide lockdown
NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that entire India will be locked down for the next 21 days from midnight tonight and urged Indians to forget what stepping out feels like, or warned that the entire country will go back 21 years.
Signalling the rising threat from the spread of Covid-19, PM Modi said this drastic measure was necessary to protect the state of India’s health and its economy. “Negligence, wrong-thinking are jeopardising the lives of your family members, friends and even the entire country,” he said, adding, “This could cause immense harm to India.”
This is the PM’s second address to the nation since Thursday, when he called for a “Janata Curfew” on Sunday, a 14-hour self-quarantine to fight the spread of coronavirus. Since then, almost all of India has come under complete lockdown, with states like Punjab imposing a curfew.
“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi said in the televised address and also announced an emergency financial package of Rs 15,000 crore for healthcare. More than 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, and the death toll has risen to 10, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday.
As 32 states and Union Territories had earlier imposed complete lockdown till March 31, so the Centre’s move to impose a total lockdown essentially extends the restrictions to April 14.
Earlier today, addressing the media via video conferencing, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government is very close to announcing an economic package to help sectors tide over the crisis. She rolled out a slew of measures to help individuals and businesses with various statutory and regulatory compliance matters.
Modi stressed repeatedly that if the lockdown was not maintained for these three weeks, then the pandemic could not be contained. To save india, to save all citizens of india, to save you and your family, there will be a total ban on stepping out of home,” he said. “This is in effect a curfew…a step ahead of janata curfew,” he added.
Modi’s stress on social distancing amidst a rather long three-week countrywide lockdown, he did not say a single word on how the country would combat the lack of food and supplies during this period. He said all arrangements for essential services “are in place and will be in place in the days to come,” without going into details.
“Draw a laxman rekha around your house. A step outside can draw the pandemic to your house,” he added, citing examples of how “a few countries” have been able to shed the pandemic’s effects by imposing strict lockdowns.
He held up a banner which, in Hindi, broke down the consonants of the word ‘corona’… into the adage, ‘koi road par na nikle.’ ‘No one step out on to the roads.’ “It will take time to show signs. In 10 days, it can reach hundreds from one person,” Modi said, ostensibly quoting WHO statistics.
“It took 67 days for the disease to reach the first 1 lakh, then in 11 days it touched 2 lakh,” he marvelled. “It is impossible to say the price India will have to pay if irresponsible behaviour continues. For the past two days, the country’s many places have been lockdown. Take the state government’s decisions seriously.”
Like always, Modi’s announcement that he would address the nation, on Twitter, sparked off speculation on whether the nation was headed for Emergency.
In his last address on the virus outbreak, Modi had called for “resolve and restraint” to fight the disease. He had, notably, placed the onus on people to fight it and not announced any specific plans that his government would take.
(With Agency Inputs ).