day after huge rush of shoppers was witnessed in many areas in the valley ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, strict restrictions were imposed on Wednesday to curtail the spread of unabated rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths in Kashmir, including summer capital, Srinagar.
Streets wore a deserted look on Wednesday as shops and business establishments were 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.
Officials said that restrictions were tightened on Wednesday in view of huge rush of Eid shoppers on Tuesday, when massive traffic jams were witnessed at several places in Srinagar and other parts of the valley.
In view of the violation on Tuesday, the Srinagar administration withdrew the provision of partially permissible activities — including opening of shops selling vegetables, fruits, grocery, meat, chicken and milk — from 0800 hrs to 1200 hrs in the city till further orders.
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.
In some areas in downtown, civil lines and Srinagar outskirts banks were also not allowed to function after heavy rush of people was witnessed on Tuesday. However, people could be seen queued up in large numbers, without adhering to social distancing, outside banks and ATMs to withdraw money in uptown Srinagar.
An official said that movement of government officials is being facilitated through a pass system from Wednesday. “All Heads of Departments (HODs) were requested to place requisition for passes immediately,” he added.
Meanwhile, reports were received from some areas that mediapersons were also not allowed to move on the roads by police. However, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar intervened and directed security forces deployed on the ground to treat identity cards of media persons as curfew pass. Police has also established helpline numbers to facilitate movement of doctors and paramedics.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration last week extended the ‘COVID curfew’, which was scheduled to end on Monday, till May 17 in all 20 districts of the Union Territory. Eid-ul-Fitr, the culmination of holy fasting month of Ramazan, also falls within the extended corona curfew period.
However, essential services were exempted from the lockdown in the valley, where 672 people were fined while 156 others were arrested on Tuesday for violating COVID curfew and other guidelines imposed by the administration to curtail the spread of the virus.
The extension in the lockdown in the UT has come in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in J&K, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last about 30 days. Srinagar alone, out of 4352 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 846 cases on Tuesday followed by Jammu with 602 cases. Of the 65 deaths recorded on Tuesday in the UT, 24 were from Kashmir and 41 from Jammu.