Srinagar, Jul 26: Strict restrictions continued on Sunday even as shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the road for the fourth successive day in view of five-day lockdown imposed by authorities till July 27 to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the summer capital, Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley.
However, in view of Eid-ul-Adha, which will be celebrated on August 1, business and other activities will be resumed for three days from July 28 to facilitate hassle-free purchase of sacrificial animals and other necessary items.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole on Saturday said that the markets would remain open for three days from July 28 to July 30 to facilitate hassle-free purchase of sacrificial animals and other necessary items in view of Eid.
Mr Pole, while chairing a meeting, instructed Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to open up markets in a phased manner with different timings to avoid gatherings and violation of social distancing protocol by the public thronging market places during these three days. “Custodians of masjids, shrines and khankahas shall be allowed to carry out cleaning of religious structures during these three days as a religious formality, but no gathering shall be allowed at these places,” he added.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had announced a complete lockdown in areas which have been categorised as red zones in Kashmir, barring Bandipora, from Wednesday evening to July 27 due to spike in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Of the total 305 deaths since March this year, 270 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in 51 days, and 290 people in 65 day in J&K, where 523 new positive cases were detected on Saturday, taking the total number of infected persons to 17305.
Official sources said that strict restrictions continued on Sunday on movement of individuals, vehicles and all activities in Kashmir valley, particularly Srinagar, which is the worst hit area in terms of deaths and fresh COVID-19 cases.
However, they said essential service and medical emergencies have been kept out of the ambit of restrictions and would be allowed to move after proper verification.
All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, remained sealed with authorities asking public to cooperate to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by strictly adhering to the lockdown. Roads leading to Ghani Khan market in Srinagar were also closed with barbed wires since early Sunday morning.
Shops and business established remained closed and traffic was off the roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar in view of the lockdown. But, some roads witnessed traffic jam due to roadblocks and checking. At some places, few traders could be seen selling animals for sacrifice on Eid though less number of buyers
They said all Executive Magistrates along with respective SHOs shall personally monitor enforcement of lockdown and take necessary action in case of violations. “No inter and intra district movement will be allowed without valid permission or staff on medical/health duty,” they said.
“Any violation of the lockdown order will attract proceedings and action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act and provisions contained in the Epidemic Diseases Act,” they added.
Reports of similar restrictions were coming from other parts of the valley, including Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara in north and Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian in north Kashmir.
Business and other activities were also remained crippled in central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal, where roads were closed with barbed wires in most parts to prevent movement of vehicles.
Urging people to take all precaution while distributing sacrificial meat, the Div Com called for strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines. He also asked DCs to prevent social or religious gatherings on Eid to contain the spread of disease in their respective districts.
The restrictions were eased in Srinagar in the second week of June, following J&K administration allowing certain activities, including reopening of malls, barber shops, hotels and restaurants with new guidelines in the Union Territory. Meanwhile, parks and gardens were re-opened earlier this week after remaining closed for about four months. The restrictions were once again briefly re-imposed in Srinagar and some other parts of the valley on July 13 after spike in COVID-19 cases.