New Delhi: On the first day of the 55-hour long weekend curfew on Saturday, Delhi witnessed deserted markets, not so empty roads and strong picketing by Delhi police across the city.
The Sunday Guardian travelled across the national capital to find out the impact of the weekend curfew imposed by the Delhi government since Friday 10 pm till Monday 5 am in order to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid 19 that has already infected more than 50,000 people in Delhi.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Delhi witnessed empty roads across the national capital, with little presence of the police personnel or paramilitary personnel on the ground, due to the heavy downpour that has been lashing the national capital since Friday late night.
At about 11 am on Saturday morning, this correspondent travelled from West Delhi to Central Delhi witnessing very few cars on the roads with mostly only cabs, auto rickshaws and public transport plying on the road. There were hardly any police personnel present on the ground on this entire route, “owing to the rains”.
But as the day progressed and the rains in Delhi started to subside, the traffic started to increase, with a greater number of cars being seen on the road.
This correspondent witnessed that East and South Delhi had the maximum number of cars plying on the road.
Apart from the auto rickshaws, public transport buses and cabs, a large number of bikes, scooters and private number plate cars were witnessed to be plying in and around Laxmi Nagar, Preet Vihar, Nirman Vihar and Mother Dairy Road in East Delhi.
Although most shops, markets were shut in East Delhi, a large section of people were seen loitering around in the streets around East Delhi and many without masks. When this correspondent spoke to some people around Laxmi Nagar as to why they were out of their homes on a day the union territory government had imposed a curfew, some said they were out to buy “essential” items for their homes, while some were out for medicines, while a person claimed he had come out to see what the traffic was like on the road.
The scenes were quite similar in some parts of South Delhi where this correspondent travelled. Private cars were seen plying on the road to an extent that a 300-metre-long traffic snarl was witnessed by this correspondent on Aurobindo Marg in South Delhi, where even an ambulance was seen struggling to make its way out of the traffic jam.
Contrary to this, the Lutyens Delhi wore a deserted look, with most roads empty and very thin traffic. Greater police presence was also witnessed in this part of the city.
However, despite this, the Delhi traffic police was seen vigilant on the road and barricades were being put up at strategic locations by the police and several cars were being stopped and checked for their valid passes. This correspondent was also stopped by the Delhi police at three locations to check for a valid pass to travel on the day of a curfew.
Unlike the roads which displayed not so much like a curfew situation in Delhi, all major markets across Delhi that this correspondent went to wore a deserted look. The Sarojini Nagar market and the Lajpat Nagar market which otherwise are packed with shoppers on a weekend wore a deserted look with only food joints and shops selling essential items like medicines and groceries open.
The iconic Connaught Place also wore a deserted look on Saturday with almost all shops in the area being closed. However, movement of people on the bylanes of the city went unhindered throughout the day.
In the interior parts of the residential areas of Delhi, people moved around unchecked with little or no presence of police personnel or enforcement agencies. Many people on roads were even seen speeding with their motorcycles and many walking around and “catching up” with their friends and mostly without masks.
The Delhi local government had imposed weekend curfew in the UT after a meeting was held with all members of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) earlier this week. The 55-hour-long curfew was imposed to curb the Covid-19 cases that have been doubling every three to four days. Delhi on Saturday recorded over 20,000 positive cases.