In Kashmir, Authorities Follow a Separate Relaxation Schedule

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KO Pic: Abid Bhat

Srinagar- A brief sense of lockdown relief encouraged many people of Kashmir to go out for a brisk shopping on Saturday, before a posse of police and paramilitary reinforced the deserted street order.

People had come out after Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday issued a directive allowing the opening of standalone shops and shops located in residential complexes of urban areas and shops selling non-essential goods in addition to those selling essentials of life in the rural areas.

Even as the newly declared union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is entitled to all union laws, the valley continues to follow the separate administrative calendar, especially in the present pandemic when lockdown woes are escalating.

In the run-up to the May 3 lockdown deadline, as New Delhi is announcing a phase-wise resumption of the routine across India, J&K administration looks adamant on maintaining restrictions.

When asked why Kashmir isn’t witnessing easing out in lockdown, P.K. Pole, Kashmir divisional commissioner, told Kashmir Observer, “Kashmir to have separate relaxation schedule.”

The rationale behind defying the MHA directive is said to be the so-called Red Zones in Kashmir.

Earlier, in order to enforce the community discipline, the authorities encouraged locals to guard and patrol entry and exit points, besides ordering the controversial concrete barriers to isolate these zones.

“Since there is large number of red zones in the Valley and as such there will be separate directions from the health department and those will be issued shortly with regard to relaxations in the lockdown,” Div Com Pole said.

There are 76 red zones in Kashmir with hardly any single district among the 10 districts in the Valley remaining unaffected by COVID-19.

Even as Pulwama was declared a Covid-19 free district, the district may lose the status once the pace of testing picks up.

Meanwhile, asking people to “Stay Home Stay Safe! Prevention is better than cure! #Covid19”, Srinagar Magistrate, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary, has clearly expressed dissatisfaction with the opening of shops in Srinagar district with 15 red zones.

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