COVID curfew continues in Kashmir; traffic jams at many places in Srinagar

Srinagar, May 18 (UNI) Despite administration acting tough on ‘COVID curfew’ violators, traffic jams were witnessed in many areas in the summer capital, Srinagar even as majority of the people remained confined to their homes as restrictions to curtail the spread of the deadly virus entered 20th day on Tuesday in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has announced 50 per cent attendance for employees of government officers in the Union Territory (UT), which witnessed another grim day on Monday with 73 people, including 54 from Jammu and 19 from Kashmir, losing their lives to Coronavirus, the highest-ever daily fatalities since the outbreak. As many as 3344 new positive cases were also reported in the Union Territory, which has witnessed an acute shortage of COVID vaccine, particularly in Kashmir, during the last over 10 days.

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.
Asserting that COVID curfew in Kashmir valley is showing positive results, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Mohammad Aijaz Asad said that the number of fresh coronavirus cases in the city has witnessed a decline. ”The maximum positive cases of COVID-19 in the current month were recorded on May 4, when 1311 people tested positive for the virus. Since then, the number of cases has decreased in the city due to COVID curfew,” Mr Asad said.

However, according to data accessed by UNI, Jammu and Kashmir’s daily COVID-19 testing has dipped by about 21 per cent between May 9 and May 16 while the average positive cases in a day during this time have remained above 10 per cent. The Union Territory between May 9 and May 13 recorded a daily average of 42,994 tests while the daily average fell between May 14 and May 16 to 33,935 tests, resulting in a dip of 21 per cent in the average testing rate.

Even though heavy rush of people was witnessed in the morning on the roads, besides outside banks and ATMs, 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.

Traffic jams were witnessed in some areas, including near Chanapora, Natipora and Mehjoor Nagar in uptown and Karanagar in Srinagar civil lines, where security forces were allowing only people associated with essential services to move ahead. Security forces on Tuesday also conducted random searches of vehicles in the summer capital, Srinagar, where shops and business establishments remained closed.

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.
Reports of similar restrictions were coming from other parts of the valley, including Sopore, Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara in north and Shopian, Anantnag, Pulwama and Kulgam in south Kashmir. Shops and business establishment were closed and road wore a deserted look in these districts, where police parties were patrolling their respective areas to ensure strict implementation of the lockdown.

Business and other activities remained crippled in central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal, where roads have been closed with barbed wires in most parts to prevent movement of vehicles and people.
On April 29, the Jammu and Kashmir administration imposed curfew in 11 districts to curtail the spread of COVID-19, which was subsequently extended to all the 20 districts in the Union Territory the next day. The curfew that was supposed to end on May 3 was extended in Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla and Jammu till May 6. However, the Deputy Commissioners of the remaining seven districts in the valley extended the lockdown till May 6 separately. The COVID curfew was later extended till May 10 and then till May 17.
The administration last month ordered the closure of all universities, colleges, schools, and coaching centres in the Union Territory till May 15 though teaching and non-teaching staff was asked to attend schools and colleges. But, the J&K administration later allowed teaching and non-teaching staff to stay home in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir. The closure of the educational institutes was last week extended till May 30.

Teachers, however, are conducting online classes from home in the valley though many students alleged that they were unable to attend these classes due to non-availability of smart phones. The decision to allow teachers to take online classes from their respective homes was taken after many teaching and non teaching staff members of government schools tested positive for the virus in the Union Territory.

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