New Delhi, March 29, 2020: Seven days into the three-week lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologised to the nation for the "hard decision" as thousands of migrant labourers across the country desperately tried to reach their homes.
"I apologise to the nation for taking some hard decisions that have caused inconvenience to the common man. But I had to take these steps to ensure your protection," PM Modi said on his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat.
Over the last two weeks, the country has grinded to a halt as state after state declared lockdowns, shutting all public transport, closing schools and colleges, malls and markets, gyms and swimming pools. Last Monday, the Prime Minister had declared the lockdown.
The announcement trapped thousands of migrant workers in the big cities, with no income and no food. Though state governments announced that preparations were being made to provide food to the people, the community kitchens and the distribution network were yet to come up.
Panicking, the migrant labourers started moving - many started footing it to their villages and hometowns, in absence of transport. The highways across north India showed a stead stream of people, sometimes whole families, trudging on, carrying children on shoulders and clutching onto their meagre possessions.
Yesterday, a 38- year-old man, who had walked over 200 km from Delhi to reach his home in Madhya Pradesh, died of a heart attack on the way. The man collapsed on the highway near Uttar Pradesh’s
Agra town, just 80 km short of his destination.
Amid the frantic movement across the country, the Prime Minister also underscored the need to enforce the restrictions, saying those who are violating the lockdown are "playing with their own lives".
The warning came as the number of COVID-19 positive people rose to 986, with 61 new cases coming in.
Inputs from NDTV