Monday, 30th October 2017

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Guwahati responds to 9-minute light vigil

The light display went from 9pm & ended with claps, bursting of firecrackers & shouts like 'go corona go'

By A Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 6.04.20, 1:13 AM
  • Updated 6.04.20, 3:26 AM
  • 2 mins read
Sarbananda Sonowal lights diyas on Sunday. (UB Photos)

Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call, people in Assam on Sunday evening switched off lights and lit candles or torchlights or mobile flashlights to display unity amid the nationwide lockdown.

The light display went on for nine minutes from 9pm and ended with claps, bursting of firecrackers and shouts like “go corona go”.

“I switched on my mobile flashlight on the balcony. I don’t know whether such an act has anything to do with coronavirus. I did so as the Prime Minister had requested us,” said Anil Das, a resident of Lakhimi Nagar here.

Last month, Modi had appealed to the people to clap, clang bells and plates from their windows or balconies to show their gratitude to emergency services workers but it resulted in processions and celebration in many places defying lockdown and social distancing norms.

Modi’s Sunday call had drawn both criticism and greetings in Assam. Some like Congress leader Debabrata Saikia criticised the Prime Minister for ignoring vital issues during the lockdown in his speech. There were some who had doubted whether the call had any link with completion of the ruling BJP’s 40 years (on Sunday).

However, soon after Modi’s appeal, numerous messages surfaced in social media with explanations on how switching off bulbs and lighting candles can be effective in fighting coronavirus from an astrological point of view.

The divided opinion was also reflected in the city during the nine minutes as bulbs continued to glow in many households.

The blackout did not disrupt the power grid, as feared by many. It was feared if people switched off all electrical devices along with bulbs, it may lead to a power grid failure.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had directed power department officials on Saturday to arrange meetings in all districts immediately under the chairmanship of deputy commissioners on Sunday morning and ensure wide publicity to create awareness on the Centre’s advisory on the switch-off period. Following Sonowal’s instruction, the power department on Sunday clarified the dos and don’ts in the districts.

Cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced on Sunday morning that streetlights will continue to glow and urged people not to switch off other electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines or fans.

APDCL managing director Rakesh Agarwal told the media that if other electronic devices were switched off, the power consumption would have gone down by around 250MW during the period. He did not rule out power grid failure in such a situation.

In the morning, state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass had urged people to respond to Modi’s call but cautioned them not to use hand sanitiser immediately before lighting diyas (earthen lamps) as alcohol used in the product was inflammable.

Assam PCC president Ripun Bora tweeted at night, “Surprised to see that some people are playing with #crackers as if celebrating Diwali while lighting Diya & Candle to comply PM’s advice at such situation when Country is fighting with pandemic COVID-19 Hundreds died, thousands are struggling for survival at hospitals.”