After Jammu, Reasi Admn commits faux pas; shuts shops of essentials, withdraws order later

Para-military personnel stand guard during fifth day of lockdown in Jammu on Friday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Para-military personnel stand guard during fifth day of lockdown in Jammu on Friday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Two more test +ve in Jammu, cases climb to 6
Govt to set up 11 Exclusive COVID Hospitals: Kansal
1200 identified for hiding travel history in J&K
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 27: Two more persons were today tested positive for COVID-19 in Jammu taking total number of Coronavirus patients in the region to six while the Union Territory Government has ordered conversion of 11 hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir as `Exclusive COVID Hospitals’ including eight in Kashmir and three in Jammu.
After faux pas by Jammu administration yesterday directing closure of petrol pumps, an essential service declared by Central and UT Governments and then re-opening them within few hours, the district Reasi administration has openly flouted the directives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu and ordered closure of all grocery shops, vegetable and fruit vendors till March 29, causing crisis-like situation in the district with people suffering a lot.
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UT Government spokes-man and Principal Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department Rohit Kansal told the Excelsior that the Government has decided to set up 11 `Exclusive COVID Hospitals’ in J&K including eight in Kashmir and three in Jammu.
“As many as 2400 treatment beds will be earmarked for Coronavirus patients while 1000 additional beds are being created for quarantine. We have adequate capacity to handle any possible crisis,” Kansal said.
Three hospitals being set up as `Exclusive COVID Hospitals’ in Jammu included Chest Diseases Hospital at Bakshi Nagar, Psychiatric Hospital at Resham Ghar and Gandhi Nagar Hospital.
Meanwhile, two more patients today tested positive for COVID-19 in Jammu, taking total number of Coronavirus patients in the region to six.
The patients tested positive today hailed from Manjakote area of Rajouri district where one person had already been tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. Today’s positive patients included kin and friend of yesterday’s patient. The person tested positive yesterday had returned from Indonesia few days back and met a religious person at Samba some time back, who died in Hyderpora, Srinagar yesterday.
Out of six Coronavirus patients in Jammu, one has already recovered.
Meanwhile, an order issued by District Magistrate Reasi Indu Kanwal Chib has directed for closure of all grocery shops, vegetable and fruits vendors till March 29. It also indirectly banned sale of milk on shops but allowed its supply through home delivery only and that too after procurement of valid permits by her.
The order is in complete violation of the directions issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu that the administration should ensure supply of essential commodities to the people at any cost.
Large numbers of people from different parts of Reasi district rang up the Excelsior office saying since March 25 when the District magistrate ordered closure of grocery, vegetable and milk shops, they were running extreme shortage of essentials and number of families had nothing to cook.
“This is height of the violation of Central and UT Government orders. We wonder what kind of orders are being issued by the District Magistrates? At a time when the people need healing touch, the administration in some districts is coming out with orders which are causing enormous inconvenience to the people,” the locals of Reasi said.
When brought to the notice of Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma, he told the Excelsior that directions have immediately been issued to rescind the order and ensure smooth and unhindered supply of all essential commodities to the people.
When asked for comments, the DC Reasi claimed that the administration was providing essential commodities at door-steps of the people and that all shops dealing with essential commodities will re-open tomorrow. Locals, however, maintained that there was no supply of essential commodities at their houses as claimed by the administration.
Meanwhile, in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, the UT administration today directed all Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police to caution religious leaders against holding any congregation.
“DCs and SPs advised to strictly caution all religious leaders not to call any gatherings. Public gatherings a major source of social contact and spread of the virus,” Government spokesperson and Principal Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department Rohit Kansal said in a tweet.
The religious leaders and clergy have asked people to offer Friday prayers at home. All religious places including holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji have already been closed for the pilgrims.
A police spokesman said 329 FIRs have been registered by police across J&K since the beginning of lockdown for defying prohibitory orders. Police have also taken action against 600 vehicle operators and shopkeepers for defying restrictions.
Today, 30 FIRs were registered in the UT including 26 in Kashmir Zone and four in Jammu region.
Meanwhile, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh today said a batch of 300 police recruits have been sent to a quarantine centre in Kathua district after successfully completing the training process.
The police recruits had completed special training outside Jammu and Kashmir and were on way back to the UT.
“Nearly 1,200 people who have travel history to affected countries have been identified at different places in J&K. They have been lifted from wherever they were and brought to quarantine. They have been put in official quarantine facilities,” the DGP said.
The police and administration have launched a massive operation to track, trace and take these people to quarantine, he said.
“We have launched a massive operation to trace and shift people with travel history to the affected countries to quarantine. We have setup control rooms and appealed to people to give information about those people,” he said.
Singh said over 400 calls have been received about people who hid their travel history and escaped screening for Coronavirus.
A spacious quarantine centre has been setup in Kathua to send all travelers entering Jammu and Kashmir via Lakhanpur to quarantine.
In the wake of lockdown, the police have reached to the people with ration and medicines, the DGP said.
He appealed to people to voluntarily come forward and said hiding information could prove to be “fatal”.
“All those people the COVID-19 positive person met and places where he stayed are under threat. This needs to be understood,” he said.
Singh said people should not take death of Coronavirus patient as a joke and instead view it as a “very serious threat”.
Sharing the sexagenarian’s travel history, the DGP said, “He had travelled from Deoband (in Uttar Pradesh) to Delhi and to Nizamuddin. From Nizamuddin he travelled to Samba (Jammu region) and stayed at a mosque. From there he went to Srinagar and from there to Bandipora (North Kashmir).”
“He travelled a long distance. Now all people have to be traced and quarantined,” he added.
So far, four people who came in contact with the Maulvi in Bandipora have been identified, Singh said.
“They have tested positive (for COVID-19). The number of positive cases (in Jammu and Kashmir) was constant for a long period but has suddenly gone up with these people testing positive,” he said.
A media bulletin issued this evening by the Health and Medical Education Department said 18 persons in Jammu and Kashmir have so far tested positive.
A total of 5763 persons have been enlisted for observation while people kept for home quarantine is 3136. As many as 169 persons have been kept under hospital quarantine while surveillance of 580 persons has been completed. As many as 1877 were under home surveillance.
Authorities have collected 423 samples for COVID-19 test of which 400 have tested negative, 18 positive and reports of five were awaited. There has been one death due to Coronavirus while one person has recovered.
In the Union Territory of Ladakh, no one has tested positive for Coronavirus for the last six days.
Commissioner/Secretary (Health) Ladakh Rigzin Samphel said reports of two samples were recovered today and both were negative. Reports included that of one person whose sample had been repeated as he had flown from New Delhi by GoAir flight on March 21.
Samphel said a Command Centre has been set up to provide medical and essential commodities during lockdown. District administration of Leh and Kargil will provide home delivery facilities for medical and essential services in Leh and Kargil towns during lockdown period. Home delivery at village level will be provided in next few days, Samphel said.
Meanwhile, there was complete lockdown in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh for fifth consecutive day today.
Movement of people on the roads was virtually negligible as they stayed indoors and came out only for purchase of essential commodities or visiting hospitals. Emergency staff of various Government departments attended their offices and duties.
In cities and towns also, police and para-military personnel have set up nakas at various places to enforce lockdown and were allowing only those dealing with essential services or going to purchase essential commodities to move. However, since police and para-military personnel were unable to differentiate between the people unnecessarily moving on the roads or those going to purchase essential commodities, many genuine people were also caught at the nakas.
National Highways and other major roads in Jammu region remained deserted.
Domestic flights and train services have already been stopped by the Government of India.
There was, however, no report of any untoward incident during lockdown in any part of the Union Territories and Ladakh.