Srinagar, (Asian independent) How seriously have Kashmiris taken the fast spreading Covid-19 infection? Well, long queues of people outside banks and in markets have betrayed all public seriousness towards the officially announced corona curfew in the Valley.
Banks started business on Tuesday after three days of remaining closed on account of holidays. And the people in almost all cities and towns of the Valley seemed to pounce on them in unending queues.
Ironically, the official persuasion and fear of penal action have both fallen on deaf ears.
“People need money and they cannot observe the holy Eid festival (likely to fall on Thursday or Friday) without funds,” said a man waiting outside the bank branch in north Kashmir Ganderbal district.
Asked why can’t they withdraw money at leisure and without gathering in large numbers by going to ATM kiosks, the man said, “Most of the ATMs were without cash in the morning and besides that, the large number of people lined up to withdraw money from banks include the poor who get social security pensions like old age and destitute pension.
“Banks do not give ATM cards to such depositors since there is hardly any standing balance in such accounts,” said another bystander outside the bank.
Well, early morning buyer lines were seen at butcher shops, poultry outlets, vegetable and bakery shops in many places of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley.
Police was seen stopping people at some places, but the way private transport moved on the roads in different districts, it seemed everybody was out on some kind of a picnic.
Traffic jams at many places were seen in Srinagar city and other district headquarters.
“I saw people carrying bagloads of almost everything they could buy. It is disgusting,” said Nazir Ahmad, who had gone to buy medicine for his diabetic mother.
“We persuade, argue and many times threaten people with penal action, but what can you do to so many of them who believe that the lockdown has been imposed for some kind of a law and order situation,” said a policeman in Srinagar who obviously did not want to be named.
It is traditional for Kashmiris to throng banks, bakeries, mutton and poultry shops on Eid eve, but very few of them seem to realise that this year, the times are out of joint because of the unrelenting pandemic.
Shocked to see the callousness of the common man, Dr. Parvaiz Koul, head of medicine department at the super specialty Sher-e-Kashmir institute of medical sciences (SKIMS) and a noted pulmonologist, told IANS, “It is definitely a disaster in the making.
“I wonder how can people can ever behave so irresponsibly. Lockdown is the only way to break the fast spreading chain.
“The government decided to impose the lockdown throughout J&K after weighing all the options.
“And here we are out to defy our own safety and that of others. Wearing a mask in such big crowds where people are in close proximity, becomes almost immaterial. God help us,” Dr. Koul said.
Had the advice of our senior most doctors like Koul not fallen on deaf ears, we would not see Tuesday’s crowds in Kashmir during such calamitous times.
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