Srinagar: Strict restrictions continued for the twelfth successive day on Monday in view of extension of the COVID curfew once again till May 16 following unabated rise in the number of fresh coronavirus cases and death in the Kashmir valley.
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday appealed to the people to strictly adhere to COVID curfew and follow all the guidelines — including wearing masks, maintaining social distance and hand hygiene — to curtail the spread of the virus.
Mr Sinha said despite the time of festivals — including Ramazan and Eid – the decision to extend the lockdown was taken to keep everyone safe. “I once again appeal all the people to adhere to the COVID curfew and other guidelines so that precious lives can be saved and the spread of the virus can be curtailed,” he added.
Meanwhile, the train service between Baramulla in north Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region has been suspended for six days from Tuesday in view of surge in the COVID positive cases and deaths.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday 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 have been exempted from the lockdown in the valley, where 677 people were fined while 11 others were arrested on Sunday 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 28 days. Srinagar alone, out of 5190 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 920 cases on Sunday followed by Jammu with 658 cases. Of the 54 deaths recorded on Sunday in the UT, 22 were from Kashmir and 32 from Jammu.
Streets continued to wear a deserted look on Monday 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.
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 establishments remained closed though a good number of vehicles were plying on roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar. Reports of violation of lockdown were coming from some areas in the city, where grocery, bakery, milk, meat, fruits and vegetables and chicken shops have been allowed to function from 0800 hrs to 1200 hrs everyday during the lockdown period.
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.
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.