Srinagar: Shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads with strict restrictions being re-imposed from Monday in the summer capital, Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley to ‘curtail the spread of COVDI-19 pandemic’.
The restrictions come two days ahead of the first anniversary of the scrapping of special status of J&K and its bifurcation into two Union Territories on August 5.
Deputy Commissioners of different districts of Kashmir valley said strict restrictions were ordered in view of the spike in the number of coronavirus cases.
Despite officials asserting that the lockdown was imposed to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Iltija Mufti, daughter of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said that ‘it is clearly being done to ensure that anger and frustration felt by people in Kashmir remain hidden’.
J&K on Sunday witnessed 444 new COVID-19 cases of which the highest 69 were recorded in Udhampur, followed by 65 in Jammu and 62 in Srinagar. Eight people — including four from Srinagar — died due to COVID-19 on Sunday, taking the death toll due to the infection in the Union Territory of J&K to 396.
“Strict restrictions have been imposed 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,” officials said.
However, they said essential service and medical emergencies, besides government officers, banks and construction work have been kept out of the ambit of restrictions and people associated to these sectors would be allowed to move after proper verification.
All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, have been sealed with authorities seeking cooperation from the public to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by strictly adhering to the lockdown.
Shops and business established were closed and traffic was off the roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar in view of the lockdown. Security forces have also been deployed in strength in city and its outskirts to strictly impose the lockdown.
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 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. A large number of security forces were also deployed in north, south and central Kashmir districts to implement lockdown.
“Suddenly, there is heightened security & surveillance in the valley. Not like non discriminatory COVID virus will be more active in the days approaching 5th August so clearly this is being done to ensure that anger & frustration felt by people here remain hidden,” Miss Mufti, who is handling the official twitter handle of her mother since the PDP president was detained on August 5, wrote.