- PM Modi says lockdown would be a "curfew-like" situation
- There was a mad rush to grocery shops and medical stores
- Many question Centre's assurance that essential goods will be available
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of a three-week curfew-like lockdown set off a mad rush to grocery shops and medical stores as people tried to stock up essential items. Many questioned the government's assurance that essential goods and services will be available - especially in the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comment that it would be a "curfew-like" situation.
Late this evening, PM Modi announced that to break the chain of coronavirus -- which has affected more than 500 people in the country and killed 10 - the country would go under a 21-day lockdown starting midnight.
"It is like a curfew, tougher than the Janata Curfew," the Prime Minister said, referring to the 14-hour lockdown he had called on Sunday. "If you cross the Lakshman Rekha, you will invite the virus home," he added in his second address to the nation within a week.
"The Centre has allocated Rs 15,000 crore for fighting coronavirus... We are taking all steps to ensure the continuous supply of essential commodities," the Prime Minister further added.
But at neighbourhood grocery, arguments broke out over bags of pulses and crates of eggs. The staples - rice and flour - had been missing from most shops as panic buying started last week when state after state started announcing restrictions. Long queues were seen outside medical shops.
Soon after, PM Modi, in a series of tweets tried to reassure the people:
My fellow citizens,— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PANIC.
Essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available. Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this.
Together, we will fight COVID-19 and create a healthier India.
By converging around shops, you are risking the spread of COVID-19.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
No panic buying please.
Please stay indoors.
I repeat- Centre and State Governments will ensure all essentials are available. https://t.co/bX00az1h7l
But people questioned how the government would keep its promise. Over the last four days, as Delhi announced a lockdown, shops of even essential items in some areas had remained shut. Elsewhere, people were discouraged from venturing out of their homes by the police.
Till yesterday, the Delhi Police had filed 100 cases for violation of lockdown. Nearly 450 others were detailed.
Earlier today, Uttar Pradesh extended its partial lockdown to a complete one. Haryana had been one of the earliest states to order full-scale restrictions.