Covid deaths in Jammu but Restrictions in Kashmir


Number of deaths is twice as high in Jammu region than Kashmir region.

Pallavi Sareen

Jammu, Jan 24: Faced with increased Covid-19 positive cases, Jammu and Kashmir government’s lockdown is strict for Kashmir region and relaxed for Jammu region for the reasons best known to the State Executive Committee headed by Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta.

In Kashmir region, police can be seen enforcing lockdown on the verbal instructions of respective district administrations. Though the state executive committee has desisted from calling it weekend lockdown and has used the term ‘restrictions on the non-essential movement’; in Kashmir region, strict lockdown with police along with officials of district administration penalizing violators was observed.

No Lockdown, but Voluntary Shutdown in Jammu

Voluntary Shutdown was observed in Jammu on the call of JCCI. Picture by Pallavi Sareen

In Jammu region, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Jammu Anshul Garg explained ‘restrictions on non-essential movement’. While speaking with The Straight Line he said, “There shall be no restrictions on transport, essential services/activities and home deliveries during the weekend in Jammu. However, the public is strongly urged to stay at home to avoid any inconvenience.”

He added, “We are talking to trade associations and Chamber of Commerce and Industry for voluntary closing of shops and business establishments in Jammu over weekends to restrict non-essential movement. It shall greatly help us in breaking the chain of transmission as positivity rate is increasing sharply.”

Blanket Order for the entire Union territory saw different interpretations district-wise

On January 20, 2022; State Executive Committee (SEC) issued another order restricting non-essential movement across J&K after 2 PM on Friday to 6 AM Monday morning. Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Arun Gupta addressed media and said that the shops will not close after 2PM.

“There is a restriction on non-essential movement. We have been made to understand by the district administration that non-essential movement will be restricted but no one will be forced to close shops and business establishments. Traders should decide themselves what is in the larger interest of the society given the way covid cases have increased,” said Chamber President.

It was Chamber and not the state government or district administration on whose call, traders shut shops on Saturday and Sunday largely in Jammu district and in some other districts of Jammu region. But no shop was shut on Friday till 9 PM. In Jammu district, Barista was open for takeaway and restaurants continued home-delivery while local eateries/momo-shops continued their day-to-day operations.

Administrators in Samba, Kathua and Udhampur districts had their own interpretation of the SEC order. Barbed wire could be seen on the roads of Udhampur city, a district with 896 active Covid-positive cases as compared to Jammu city with ten times more Covid Positive cases.

Strict restrictions in Kashmir

While it was a normal business day in the Jammu region, Kashmir witnessed famous Mughal Durbar restaurant being sealed for violating Covid restrictions.

Shops shut in Srinagar. Picture by Syed Pirzada

When asked, an official in Kashmir’s divisional administration said “We are doing what we have been communicated verbally for the safety of commoners across Kashmir valley. We don’t care what is happening in Jammu region.”

On being asked, why Kashmiri trade bodies do not enjoy similar authority on the issue of weekend lockdown as is being enjoyed by JCCI, a senior government official on the condition of anonymity said “Local containment measures are to be decided by district administration and not the trade bodies. If it is happening in Jammu, it is news to me.”

He further said “Covid Positive cases are way higher in Kashmir valley. You can relax the covid containment restrictions in areas with lesser number of cases but you cannot do so in valley where we are getting 4000 cases on daily basis. We need to be strict.”

What does data suggest?

A look at the number of covid cases and deaths raises several questions. The number of deaths in Jammu region (48) is almost double when compared with Kashmir region (21 deaths). Of this; 25 Deaths were recorded in Jammu district, the highest in the Union Territory.

Number of cases on daily basis has jumped 38 times higher from January 1, 2022 in Jammu and Kashmir. While no Covid-19 death was reported from January 1 to January 5; the initial days of 3rd wave of Covid-19 in Jammu and Kashmir; in the past seventeen days, J&K has officially reported 68 Covid deaths with 48 deaths in Jammu region and 20 in Kashmir region.

Jammu districts has a positivity rate of 10%. Since the beginning of this month, cases on daily basis have increased 27 times in Jammu region and 46 times in Kashmir region. The testing capacity of J&K has also been increased. From 65,920 tests (in the past 24 hours) on Jan 1st to 82,423 tests (in past 24 hours) on Jan 22nd. Hospital admissions too have shown a modest increase.

Occupancy went from 261 beds nearly a week ago to 538 beds. 277 patients got admitted in various hospitals across J&K between January 13 and January 23 i.e., Average 27 patients got hospitalized due to Covid-19. The bed occupancy is increasing in both regions while the death account is showing an upsurge in Jammu region.

On being asked about the high death count, a senior doctor said “We are crossing the peak while Kashmir region will see peak in the coming days.”

If that is to be believed, what is the rationale behind stricter restrictions in Kashmir than Jammu?


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