New Delhi, March 29 (NDTV): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday apologized to the nation for the “hard decision” which especially affected “the poor” as the nation entered the fifth day of the three-week lockdown, and thousands of migrant laborers across the country desperately tried to reach their homes.
But the decision, he underscored, was the “only solution” to combat the highly contagious virus, which is playing havoc across the world.
“People must be wondering what kind of Prime Minister I am … But lockdown is the only solution in front of us,” PM Modi said on his monthly radio address “Mann Ki Baat”.
“I apologize for taking these harsh steps which have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people. I know some of you would be angry with me also. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle,” he added.
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 Tuesday, 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 laborers started moving – many started footing it to their villages and hometowns, in absence of transport. The highways across north India showed a steady stream of people, sometimes whole families, trudging on, carrying children on shoulders and clutching onto their meager possessions.
On Saturday, 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 979, with 61 new cases coming in.
“People must be wondering what kind of PM I am … But lockdown the only solution in front of us. Many people are still defying lockdown… this is sad…Many people across the world did the same mistake,” the Prime Minister said. “Those who are defying lockdown are playing with their own lives,” he added.