Restrictions intensified in Kashmir as fresh COVID cases, deaths keep piling up

Srinagar, May 21 (UNI) Restrictions were on Friday intensified as there was no letup in fresh Coronavirus cases and deaths in Kashmir valley, including summer capital, Srinagar, where security forces were deployed in strength to prevent any congregation to mark the death anniversaries of Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq and Peoples Conference (PC) founder Abdul Gani Lone.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir Vijay Kumar and other senior police officials on Friday visited various places in the city, including Hazratbal, Eidgah and Nowhatta, to ascertain the implementation of ‘COVID curfew’ by security forces.

Health Experts have recommended wearing triple surgical or cotton masks, saying that people should avoid social gatherings as the second wave of COVID-19 is highly infectious and targeting mostly youngsters. “People need to understand the gravity of the situation and should take precautionary measures even at home,” Dr Ishrat Hussain Dar, Professor Medicine, Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar.

However, ignoring personal safety, besides appeals by ulmas and religious scholars to adhere to COVID curfew imposed to break the chain, people are still hitting the streets in the valley, where around 8000 violators were fined and 1,500 other arrested while hundreds of vehicles were seized during the last 10 days.

The Union Territory (UT) witnessed another grim day on Thursday with 67 people, including 41 from Jammu and 26 from Kashmir, losing their lives to Coronavirus. As many as 4169 new positive cases, including 1518 from Jammu and 2509 from Kashmir, were also reported in J&K.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday extended the ‘COVID curfew’ by another week till May 24 in all 20 districts in the Union Territory though essential services were exempted from the lockdown. This was the fourth successive extension of COVID curfew in the valley since April 29. The latest extension came 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 over a month.

Meanwhile, Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq and Peoples Conference (PC) founder Abdul Gani Lone were remembered on Friday as on this day they were assassinated by unidentified gunmen in 1990 and 2002 respectively in Srinagar. All roads leading to Martyrs grave yard at Eidgah in the down town city, where both the leaders were buried, were closed by the security forces and police personnel since last night to prevent any assembly there.

Even the media persons were not allowed to take photograph of the area by the security forces, who had closed roads with barbed wire and by parking bullet proof vehicles in the middle of the roads. However, Eidgah road leading to S K Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) at Soura was open and only those having medical emergency, doctors and paramedical staff were being allowed after verifying their documents and Identity Cards (IDs).

But, heavy rush of people was again witnessed in the morning on the roads, besides outside banks and ATMs in Srinagar city. However, police intervened and sent them back to their homes. Later, streets again wore a deserted look while shops and business establishments were closed in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley.

Standalone shops — selling fruits, vegetables, grocery, milk and other dairy products — have been allowed to function between 0600 hrs and 1000 hrs every day amid strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, including ensuring social distancing in Srinagar and other districts in the valley. However, people in many parts of the city allowed that police parts have been forcing shopkeepers to close their shops before 0900 hrs.

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.

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