GUWAHATI, March 22 - The State witnessed an unprecedented shutdown today as the masses extended their full support and solidarity to the Prime Minister�s call for a 14-hour Janata Curfew across the country.
The appeal was made by the Prime Minister on Thursday night to encourage social distancing in the wake of the alarming global coronavirus pandemic that has also affected many of the states in India. Assam, however, is yet to record any COVID-19 positive case till date.
Meanwhile, the Janata Curfew has been extended till 8 am tomorrow. With the Janata Curfew beginning at 7 am, millions of people in the State voluntarily stayed indoors, as streets wore a deserted look and the number of vehicles plying was few and far between. All government, semi-government and private offices as well as banks and educational institutions remained closed being a Sunday, but the normally busy markets were completely empty as not a single shop remained open.
The city, too, got into the lockdown mode since early morning and continued so throughout the entire shutdown period. The city roads, including the main GS Road and the RG Baruah Road, looked deserted with very few vehicles plying.
At 5 pm, the city air reverberated with the sound of conches, taal, dhol, khol, doba, kanh, mridang, etc., as the citizens rose in unison to express their gratitude towards doctors, nurses, hospital staff, sanitation workers, police personnel, media people, and all those associated with emergency services.
While the clapping and playing of musical instruments was supposed to remain confined to their home campuses, many people were seen pouring onto the streets in a bid to �celebrate� the occasion. Some were even seen bursting crackers on the streets and taking out processions.
�It was good to see people putting their weight to the shutdown in this unprecedented manner. Government efforts apart, we all need to be restrained and alert to stop the coronavirus from spreading even though it causes much inconvenience to us,� a resident of RG Baruah Road said.
Even as the roads and streets were empty, there was deployment of police and security personnel, especially at major intersections such as Khanapara, Ganeshguri, Beltola, Zoo Tiniali, Ulubari, Paltan Bazar, Fancy Bazar, Lakhtokia, Machkhowa, Adabari, Jalukbari, etc.
Police personnel on duty were seen stopping the few vehicles that were plying towards the evening hours. �I was stopped twice on my way to office. This I feel was uncalled for, as the curfew was voluntary and no question of enforcement arose. It had been evident from the morning that all the people wholeheartedly supported the shutdown. Only emergency personnel, including the media people, were on the streets, and the police should not have been stopping them and asking them silly questions,� a senior journalist said.
Meanwhile, the Assam Chamber of Commerce has called a trade bandh from 6 am to 9 pm tomorrow to promote social distancing in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. However, the All India Professionals Congress has opposed the move, saying it would adversely affect the supply of essential commodities.