ith no letup in the number of fresh Coronavirus cases and death, strict restrictions continued for the sixth successive day on Wednesday due to ‘Covid curfew’ that was imposed by authorities till Thursday to curtail the spread of the virus.
Essential services were exempted from the lockdown in the valley, where so far 2,943 people have been fined and 395 others have been arrested for violating Covid curfew and other guidelines since April 29. However, people alleged that they are now facing shortage of essentials, particularly fresh vegetables and fruits, as police were forcefully closing these shops.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday announced extension of the ongoing ‘Corona curfew’ in four districts of the union territory, including Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Jammu, till the morning of May 10 following unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Official sources said that the decision to extend ‘Covid curfew’ in rest of the districts in Kashmir will be taken by the respective Deputy Commissioners (DCs) on Thursday after assessing the group situation with relation to the pandemic.
Deputy Commissioner (DC), Srinagar on Wednesday issued a stern warning again overcharging for refilling oxygen cylinders and essential medicines, saying that the administration will not allow profiteering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Lt Governor last week prolonged the 84-hour-long Covid curfew that was to end on Monday in three Kashmir districts till Thursday though Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of rest of the seven districts separately announced extension of the lockdown.
The extension in the lockdown in the valley has come in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Kashmir, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last about 20 days. Srinagar alone, out of 4650 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 1311 cases on Tuesday, while Anantnag recorded 417 cases followed by Budgam with 386, Baramulla with 352 cases, Pulwama with 240 cases Kulgam 162 cases and Bandipora with 107 cases. Fresh Covid cases in rest of the districts in Kashmir are in double digits.
Streets continued to wear a deserted look on Wednesday as shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley, where security forces have closed majority of the roads with barbed wires and barricades to stop the movement of people.
The administration had allowed grocery shops, milk and dairy product shops, fruit and vegetable mandi, bakery and meat shops to function between 0900 hrs and 1800 hrs even during the lockdown. Chemist shops, LPG/petrol pumps, ATM, media, FCI, e-Commerce, construction activities, Covid-19 vaccination, inter-state movement are also allowed during the lockdown.
But, reports coming from many parts of the city alleged that even the grocery, milk, vegetable and fruit shops were not allowed to open.
All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, remained sealed to prevent movement of people. Shops and businesses established were closed while all the roads were deserted as traffic and people were off the roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar. But, people with emergency or associated with essential services, including doctors and paramedics, were allowed to move on the roads after proper verification at various checkpoints established by police.
Bank branches in some areas were also open between 1000 hrs to 1400 hrs though COVID guidelines, including maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, were being followed