NEW DELHI: On March 25, 2020, one of the most severe and largest restrictions on the movement of people seen anywhere in the world was imposed on the people when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The lockdown confined over a billion people within their homes, shut down businesses and left lakhs of migrant workers stranded in cities with no means to return to their homes.
The imposition of lockdown resulted in a humanitarian crisis as lakhs of migrant workers were left stranded in metro cities without food, money and shelter.
A near-total ban on public transport forced these hapless migrants to take the road on foot. Streams of migrant workers poured out of cities desperate to reach their native villages.
The government's hasty implementation of the lockdown was criticised for its lack of planning and heavy handedness. However, experts claim that the urgency slowed down the spread of the virus and thus gave time to set up the required infrastructure to fight the virus.
According to Our World in Data, India's lockdown was one of the most stringent in the world.
The US-based NGO, calculated the stringency based on nine response indicators including school closures, workplace closures, and travel bans, rescaled to a value from 0 to 100 (100 = strictest).
The lockdown was implemented on March 25 when the cases tally stood at 500. Soon after the announcement of the lockdown, people thronged markets to stock essential supplies.
Several people were arrested and put behind bars for violating the lockdown guidelines.
The police used brute force to deter people from venturing out. Thought essential services such as pharmacies and grocery stores were allowed to function, people, especially the poor, faced unprecedented hardship to make ends meet.
The government urged the e-commerce websites to increase their delivery infrastructure to ensure a seamless supply of essential commodities.
On April 5, citizens across the country, in a show of solidarity with the health workers, police and frontline workers, by switching off the electric lights at home for 9 minutes from 9:00 pm to 9:09 pm and observed lighting diya, candle; and flashing torchlight and mobile flashlight.
On April 14, PM Modi extended the lockdown till May 3 with conditional relaxations for areas where the virus had been contained. The entire country was divided into three zones — Red, Orange and Green — depending upon the severity of the virus.