14,000 Non-Local Labourers Arrive in 1 Week 

Official figures suggests that more than 14,000 non-local labourers have arrived in Kashmir between July 14 and July 20

Srinagar: Health experts in Kashmir Monday warned of a big ‘catastrophe’ if the free flow of non-local labourers arriving from different parts of mainland India in Kashmir is not checked.

Official figures suggests that more than 14,000 non-local labourers have arrived in Kashmir between July 14 and July 20 and the number is set to rise in the days ahead as bus loads of them are on their way to Kashmir valley, as per videos circulating on social media.

Health experts have already sounded an alarm, saying the situation would turn ugly in case the arrival of non J&K workforce is not controlled or at least regulated. What is more dangerous is that the non-local workers spread to all over Kashmir and they don’t stay at a one particular place or in a district given the nature of work they are involved in.

Authorities have already declared all the ten districts of the valley as containment Red-Zones earlier this month and imposed fresh restrictions on locals to slow down the spread of COVID-19. However, the influx of non-local labourers from different parts of India including Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa continue.

A Government spokesman on Monday claimed that all the new arrivals including non-local labourers go through screening and their samples are being taken at the designated place which includes toll plaza Qazigund on Srinagar-Jammu highway. However, a video that went viral on social media takes a lid-off the government claims as a group of non-locals when asked whether they had undergone mandatory tests for Covid-19 they replied in negative. The video has been captured by some locals on Srinagar-Jammu highway.

Noted influenza expert and President of Doctors’ Association of Kashmir, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan said no outsider should be allowed to enter Kashmir till the situation gets normal on ground. “Hospitals are already overloaded with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and there is no letup in fatalities as well. The government should immediately stop free movement of non-local labourers before everyone in the valley falls prey to deadly pandemic,” he said.

“All the entry and exit points need to be sealed and no outsider shall be allowed to enter Kashmir. Situation is grim and the entry of non-locals may have far reaching consequences. Since we have poor health infrastructure, we may not be able to cope up with the situation, it would surely be a catastrophe.”

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