Srinagar, Mar 17: Kashmir is virtually in lock-down mode, this time it is not because of abrogation of special status but out of Coronavirus scare that has created panic among local population. The advisories about the closure of schools, colleges, universities, public parks, hotels, restaurants have panicked people, though administration is maintaining that such slew of measures are being taken as a precautionary measure.
Economy in Kashmir is already in doldrums and whatever was left in this sphere is now being squeezed by Coronavirus threat. “Fortunately, no Coronavirus case has been reported in Kashmir so for but it remains to be seen how situation will unfold in coming days. The next two weeks will be difficult, and we are not certain what lies ahead after that,” said an official to Kashmir News Trust.
Markets in Kashmir were seen almost deserted in Kashmir capital Srinagar. Thin public transport was witnessed on roads while majority of the people preferred to stay indoors. “Special prayers are being held in different mosques of Valley and to ward off the threat of Coronavirus, people in some parts of Valley are holding special prayer meetings. The shrines in Kashmir that used to witness heavy rush, are also now presenting deserted look. Devotees have stopped visiting the shrines,” said a Preacher.
The closure of educational institutions has affected thousands of students. The ban on high speed internet has added to the woes of students as they are unable to avail the benefits of televised classes. “Coronavirus has badly hit Iran but the country has not stopped televised classes. In Kashmir, this is impossible in absence of high speed internet service,” said Javaid Ahmed.
Government has already announced that schools will remain closed until at least ending March.
“We recognize the significant impact this closure will have on our entire community, students, families, and employees. We also acknowledge the burden this will place on our students and employees,” said an owner of a private Coaching Centre.
The calls for “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is continuously coming from authorities but at some places like in hospitals, railway stations, bus stops, mass gatherings can be seen. “These mass gatherings can create problems while the authorities need to put some mechanism in place to stop people from assembling at one place,” said a medico.
“We continue to work closely with our counterparts in Jammu and Ladakh in our efforts to lessen the impact of Coronavirus.”
Pertinently, days after World Health Organization first said that COVID-19 had caused a world pandemic, health experts in Jammu and Kashmir struggled to come to grips with the magnitude of the challenge