Janata Curfew Gone Wrong! Garba, Bhangra, & Street Dancing is a Recipe for Covid-19 Disaster

Social Commentary

Janata Curfew Gone Wrong! Garba, Bhangra, & Street Dancing is a Recipe for Covid-19 Disaster

Illustration: Aishwarya Nayak

If Italians can do it, why can’t we? Sunday’s janata curfew, the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seemed to be raging success… up until 5 pm.

Going by the videos and social media updates of deserted cities and sounds of birds chirping, a majority of the country had decided to heed the PM’s advice and stay indoors.

After 5 pm, they had other plans. Apparently a group of these very coronavirus warriors appeared to get a little carried away by their thundering show of support and split out into the streets. Several videos surfaced, from cities across the country, showing residents celebrating by dancing on the street. India went from janata curfew to janata street party in no time.

This, as social media users pointed out, defeated the whole purpose of the curfew in the first place:

The Ahmedabad police, where this video was reportedly shot, were forced to take action against a crowd after they began performing an impromptu garba session on the streets.

Despite various appeals from politicians and the imposition of Section 144, the crowd apparently refused to leave. Eventually 20 people had to be booked for defying curfew.

While silly enough to be ignored, this was far from a one-off occurrence…

In Chennai, a crowd of what looks like three generations of a family, gathered to ward off the coronavirus, triggering a Mexican wave of face-palms across social media:

Mysore witnessed similar scenes, with people missing the point about staying indoors, and instead gathering on the streets to clap and beat thalis:

As did Jaipur…

In Mumbai, which is one of the worst-affected cities in the country, some decided to take out a procession.

In Indore, a crowd flocked the streets with dhols to celebrate the end of the curfew. Meanwhile, this group of Punjabi men didn’t even need instruments to celebrate. They were recorded dancing together, yelling “Go corona”, and definitely not maintaining the six-feet distance they were asked to in the first place.

But can we blame the aam aadmi, when our authorities don’t take social-distancing seriously? In Karnataka, the Governor of the State Vajubhai Vala was seen clanging utensils along with a couple of other people standing closely, just hours after the state government urged everyone to stay indoors for the day:

In UP too, a district magistrate and the superintendent of police apparently led a rally at 5 pm, but later clarified that they were trying to get people to go home all along.

A majority of Indians seem to be convinced that all the noise made by them would ward off the virus. This despite the Press Information Bureau of India clarifying that clapping is not going to contain a pandemic.

But this news probably did not reach the thousands who had poured into the streets, those who turn to WhatsApp for information. People from low and middle-income groups were seen dancing and celebrating, forgetting all about self-isolation and quarantine. Unfortunately, these are the people who live in cramped spaces and have least access to high-quality healthcare.

Enough cases were reported from across the country by evening for the prime minister himself to note that people were not taking the curfew very seriously:

For now, the best we can do is hope that everyone who was out on the streets washed their hands after.

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