Modi calls for candlelight vigil for those worst-hit by the coronavirus lockdown

Image: REUTERS/P. Ravikumar
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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi today (April 3) sought to rally the country in support of the millions of Indians who, he said, have suffered physically and mentally during the ongoing national lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lauding citizens for their cooperation, Modi requested Indians to come together for nine minutes at 9pm on April 5 to “march against the darkness towards the light” by lighting candles and lamps or switching on flashlights and electric torches.

“Today when crores of people are staying under isolation, it might make them think that how will they fight this battle against Covid-19 alone. They may feel alone but please remember, none of us is alone. The strength of 130 crore of Indians is with each one of us,” Modi said in a 10-minute video message in Hindi.

While urging Indians to spare nine minutes on April 5, he also urged them to stick to social distancing, asking them not to venture out of their homes during this show of solidarity on April 5. Earlier on March 22, following Modi’s call to express gratitude towards healthcare and essential services workers, hundreds of thousands breached the shutdown in enthusiasm and gathered in large numbers on the roads amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Modi’s latest address came on the 10th day of the 21-day lockdown he announced on March 24. The country has till now reported over 2,000 coronavirus positive cases, and 53 deaths due to the disease, according to the website of the health ministry. India has witnessed a massive spike in the coronavirus positive cases in the country. Some 20 existing and 22 potential hotspots of Covid-19 have been identified across the country, a government advisory (pdf) issued on April 2.

The World Bank on Thursday approved $1 billion emergency financing to India in this context.

Yesterday, the prime minister held a video-conference with the country’s many chief ministers to take stock of the situation across the country.

“Underscoring the importance of coordinated action and the need to avoid overlaps in efforts of stakeholders, the prime minister talked about the need of setting up crisis management groups at the district level and appointment of district surveillance officers,” the prime minister’s website read elaborating the details of the meeting.