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On Lucknow’s empty streets, chatter among cops: Only lockdown can defeat this virus

The traffic lights turned red, green and yellow, to an empty road, and stray dogs ambled about. All the shops, except those selling essential commodities, were shut. Policemen were seen at every 500 metres on roads, keeping a check on people’s movement.

Written by Asad Rehman | Lucknow |
March 23, 2020 11:31:30 am
Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh coronavirus, Uttar Pradesh bandh, Uttar Pradesh shutdown, Uttar Pradesh coronavirus, Uttar Pradesh janata curfew The Old City are of Lucknow on Sunday afternoon during Janata Curfew. Vishal Srivastav

The Hazratganj intersection, an otherwise busy area in the heart of Lucknow, was eerily quiet on Sunday afternoon as people stayed indoors in deference to the Janata Curfew.

Only 10-15 people, comprising policemen and mediapersons, stood on the arterial road, discussing the fallout of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that has claimed seven lives and left over 300 infected across the country.

“Yeh sirf ek hi tarah se control kiya jaa sakta hai. Ghar pe reh ke (It can only be controlled only if people stay home),” a senior police officer told a bunch of reporters.

Soon, he was interrupted by a message on the wireless handset: “Ek bhi aadmi nahi dikh raha hai (Not a single person can be seen on the road).”

The senior policeman then turns to his junior, “Raat ka duty chart tayyar hai na? (Is the night duty chart ready?)”. The answer was in affirmative and he moved to his car.

Hazratganj chauraha, recently renamed Atal Chowk, connects different parts of the city and leads to Charbagh railway station.

But Sunday was not an ordinary day. It was a Janata Curfew day and people were advised to stay home from 7 am to 9 pm by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The traffic lights turned red, green and yellow, to an empty road, and stray dogs ambled about. All the shops, except those selling essential commodities, were shut. Policemen were seen at every 500 metres on roads, keeping a check on people’s movement.

Other areas in the city were similarly quiet. Old Lucknow, Gomti Nagar, Mahanagar, Indira Nagar and all places in the city observed a shutdown.

Around 3.30 pm at Sikander Bagh chauraha, a loudspeaker mounted on a vehicle urged people to stay indoors to check the spread of Covid-19. The recorded messages also told people to practise social distancing, avoid gatherings and follow precautions.

Speaking on the Janata Curfew, Lucknow Commissioner Sujeet Pandey said, “People have cooperated with the authorities in maintaining the curfew. We had teams moving in the city requesting people to stay at home. We have used the public address system in vehicles. We have been working since 6.30 am on ensuring people stay at home.”

At 5 pm, people in Lucknow, complying with Modi’s advice, blew conch shells, clanked thalis and clapped to extend their gratitude to employees working in the health and other sectors during pandemic.

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