Srinagar: Strict restrictions remained imposed for the sixth successive day on Tuesday to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the summer capital, Srinagar, and other parts of Kashmir, where about 50 people were arrested and several shops were sealed for violating lock down order during the last 24 hours.
Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in Srinagar and other parts of the valley after a woman from downtown Srinagar, who had returned on March 16 from Saudi Arabia, became the first person in the valley to be tested positive for Coronavirus on March 19.
Shops and business establishments remained closed while streets were deserted as locals and traffic were off the roads in the valley, where despite wet weather police vehicles fitted with public address system were directing people since early this morning to remain indoors in view of imposition of restrictions under 144 CrPc, barring assembly of more than three people.
Meanwhile, acting tough against violators of government order, many shops, hotels and educational institutes were sealed while about 50 persons were arrested by the police from Srinagar, Sopore, Handwara and Anantnag in the valley during the last 24 hours.
Sources said 10 persons were arrested in Sopore, 35 in Handwara, three in Srinagar and one in Anantnag for defying prohibitory orders. “23 vehicles were also seized from different areas of Handwara in north Kashmir district of Kupwara,” they added.
All educations institutes, including schools, colleges and universities, remained closed in the valley, where train services and public transport were suspended till March 31.
The J&K administration on Sunday announced a complete lockdown till March 31 across the Union Territory as part of its efforts to prevent spread of Coronavirus. However, people associated with 16 essential services, including healthcare, groceries, fruit, milk, petrol, banks and media have been exempted from lockdown.
The streets in uptown and civil lines were deserted as shops and business establishment were closed and traffic was off the roads though few private vehicles were plying. Security forces were deployed in these areas, where people alleged they security personnel were not allowing them to move out of their houses.
Similar situation was witnessed in downtown, where people also alleged that they were not allowed to move out of their houses even to buy groceries and vegetables.
Security forces have closed the main roads in downtown and SeK with barbed wires at Nawa Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Kawdara and Khanyar. Similar road blocks remained erected by security forces at Nowhatta, Rangar stop and Gojwara. “For the second successive day, security forces were making announcement through loudspeakers, directing people to remain indoors in view of curfew imposed in the district. When I again tried to move out of his house this morning to buy vegetables I was directed to go inside,” Muzafar Ahmad, a resident of Nawakadal, told UNI.
The authorities have so far accommodated about 1200 people, who returned from Bangladesh, Ladakh, Bangkok, Dubai, Combodia, UK etc at 24 facilities — in different categories of risk.
District Magistrate Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary had said: “The decision to impose stricter restrictions has been taken after taking into account feedback obtained from security agencies and reports of executive magistrates and considering appeals from healthcare professionals and members of the general public of the district.”
The order stated that till further mechanism has been put in place for movement of all notified essential services, the exemption on movement shall apply only to officials of healthcare (including doctors, paramedics and ambulance operators), fire and emergency services, power, water, food and civil supplies and public works departments, officials on duty at quarantine centres and those associated with measures for containment of spread of coronavirus infection, those engaged in transportation of medicines and essential commodities and equipment like ration, petrol, diesel and LPG, and print and electronic media persons.
The order directs that all kinds of business and other establishments will remain closed and prohibits public movement including pedestrian and vehicular up to 1800 hrs on March 31. Cremations and funerals will be allowed though.
Dr Shahid appealed to the general public to cooperate with the administration and ensure strict adherence to the order. He said violation of the order would constitute criminal offence and attract strict action under Section 188 of IPC.
He said the district administration has put in place a mechanism to ensure uninterrupted supplies and deliveries of essential services to the general public of the district. He also said that a proper grievance redressal mechanism is in place to ensure quick redress of concerns.
Similar reports of lockdown were received from other parts of the valley, including Kupwara and Baramulla in north, Budgam and Ganderbal in central and Anantnag, Pulwama Kulgam in south Kashmir.