NEW DELHI, March 21 - The country will be observing an unprecedented shutdown on Sunday following Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s appeal for a �Janata Curfew�, where people have been urged to voluntarily stay indoors to check the spread of coronavirus while public transport will be suspended or curtailed and all markets and shops except those dealing in essential items will be closed on the day.
Cutting across party lines, Chief Ministers and others leaders urged the people to follow the self-imposed curfew from 7 am to 9 pm, noting that �social distancing� was key to breaking the chain of infection, as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 283 after 60 new cases were detected on Saturday, the highest so far in a day.
No passenger train will originate from any railway station in the country from midnight to 10 pm on Sunday while all suburban train services will be reduced to a bare minimum as well. Metro services, including in Delhi, will remain suspended for the day.
Air carriers like GoAir, IndiGo and, Vistara have announced that they will be curtailing domestic operations on Sunday. Traders� body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has announced that they will keep their establishments shut across the country on Sunday.
From suspending regular prayers in shrines of various faiths, including Sunday mass, to disallowing jail inmates from meeting their families on the day, organisations and institutions in every sphere have announced restrictions for Sunday.
Modi had on Thursday called for the �Janata Curfew� from 7 am to 9 pm on March 22, saying no citizen, barring those in essential services, should get out of their houses, and asserted that it will be a litmus test to show India�s readiness to take on the coronavirus challenge.
Describing it as the need of the hour, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked everyone in the country to support the step. In a series of tweets, Shah also asked all citizens to express gratitude to those who are working round the clock to keep the country safe and healthy amid the pandemic.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu too made a fervent appeal to the people of the country to confine themselves to homes on Sunday.
He said that since the virus spreads through physical contact, social distancing is an effective measure to contain its spread by avoiding contact during the incubation period of the virus.
�Janata curfew should be seen in the largest context of the initiative to insulate people with their voluntary involvement. It is a matter of great assurance that people have responded very positively to Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s appeal. People remaining indoors and social distancing are part of measures to curb the contagion virus,� Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Saturday.
Leaders also urged the traders not to hoard essential items and the people to purchase only necessary things. Prominent Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh said it will remain closed on March 22 and asked its students not to go outside. � PTI