Pirzada Shakir

Kupwara: As the authorities are struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19, in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, brazen violation of section 144 by some irresponsible people, who helplessly throng banks in large numbers is making the matters worse while apparently rendering more people prone to the deadly infection.

For the past few days, social media has been flooded with photographs showing people in large numbers gathering outside banks reportedly to make transactions

Astonished to see one such picture, a social media user commented, “This is catastrophic and may lead to community transmission of the disease. It also shows the helplessness of enforcement agencies.”

One such photograph of J&K bank Arampora in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district went viral on Thursday prompting netizens to criticize the administration for failing to manage gathering.

To a question, a bank official at Arampora branch of JK Bank Waseem Ahmad said that people come to withdraw cash as govt has credited scholarship and old-age pension in the accounts of students and pensioners.

Referring to Thursday’s rush, he admitted that there was a large gathering outside the bank, “We informed local police post to manage the gathering and maintain social distance among people but they reached late”.

A large gathering of people was also reported from Old Chowk JK Bank in Kupwara town apparently in violation of prohibitory orders.

Bank officials told ‘Curtain Raiser’ that they were facing a shortage of manpower to control gatherings. They expressed regret that such gatherings in the absence of police become a hurdle in the smooth functioning of daily work.

A person who identified himself as Mohd Ashraf said that he had no option but to visit the bank to withdraw money for the purchase of essentials, “Else we have to die hungry as the government doesn’t provide us essential items free of cost at our doorsteps.” he said.

“We would prefer to die of Corona Virus rather than hunger. The government must make sincere and efforts for free home delivery of essentials and ration” he stressed.

From Ganderbal, Srinagar and some other places, many such pictures have been shared on social media.

Officer Incharge, Police Post Drugmulla, Mushtaq Ahmad said that he reached Arampora Bank after receiving information that people have gathered there in large numbers, to control the situation.

To a question, how such a gathering was allowed when section 144 is enforced across Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “All the areas where from people had come, doesn’t come in my jurisdiction,”

The officer said that no FIR has been lodged against the violators as he does not have such directions from higher-ups.

“From tomorrow our team will be more vigilant in dealing with violators. I appeal to senior officials to allow us to deal with violators of prohibitory orders sternly” he said.

Notably, Jammu and Kashmir police have booked hundreds of people for violation of prohibitory order since section 144 has been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Kupwara police alone have booked dozens of people found guilty of the violation of prohibitory orders during the past few days.

However, some people who faced police action alleged that they were purchasing essentials when police chased them and arrested.

Authorities have sealed some shops in Kupwara district for violating prohibitory orders. However, despite repeated warnings and advisories, some people still visit banks and markets risking their health and others around them.

Last month authorities suspended the license of a Fair Price shop dealer when the number of consumers surged there without maintaining distance to get monthly ration in south Kashmir.

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