New Delhi: In yet another 8 p.m broadcast to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown from midnight, asking everyone to stay indoors 21 days, to fight the spiralling coronavirus cases in the country. According to NDTV, the Centre later announced a provision of Rs 15,000 crore to fight COVID-19.
The PM’s announcement comes at a time when thousands of jobless migrant daily wagers and unorganised sector workers on their way back home after the ‘Janata Curfew’ call on Sunday are stranded on the roads due to lack or transport and money.
"Forget about leaving home in the next 21 days. If you cross the Lakshman Rekha, you will invite the virus home," Modi said in his second address to the nation in a week.
Praising citizens for making the Janata Curfew or 14-hour self-quarantine on Sunday a success, he said: "From midnight, there will be a total lockdown in the entire country. It is more like curfew.”
Notably, during the ‘Janata Curfew’ call last Sunday, people came out in droves clapping and clanging ‘thaalis’ in appreciation of healthcare personnel who were risking their lives in the line of duty. The event turned out to be more of a scare as social distancing was thrown to the winds threatening greater spread of the virus.
Commenting on the PM’s lockdown announcement, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who had cautioned the government as early as in February, tweeted: “I am feeling sad, because this was completely avoidable. We had time to prepare. We should have taken this threat much more seriously and have been much better prepared.”
While the PM said India was at a critical stage, with more than 500 cases and 10 deaths “even a single misstep could lead to the deadly virus spreading like wildfire.”
However, many have questioned the government’s lack of preparedness and no thought to the poor who subsist on daily wages to buy two square meals.
@How can govt order lockdown & forget people who've no home, work & food? The state must provision cooked food for thousands across each city. Now. Else the virus will get our poorest later. Hunger will fell them first. If you cannot organize this, don't lockdown. It is too cruel,” tweeted social activist Harsh Mander.
It is very disappointing that no concrete measures have been announced so far to provide relief to the poor and the needy, and to alleviate the suffering of those who need urgent help at this moment to survive the lockdown. #COVID2019, tweeted Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M).