JAMMU, Mar 23 (Agencies): Police personnel, wearing masks, were deployed in strength across Jammu region on Monday to enforce a lockdown to counter the spread of novel coronavirus in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The shutdown came into effect from 8 pm on Sunday and will remain in force till 6 pm on March 31 with only people associated with 16 essential services, including healthcare, exempted from the restrictions.
Many roads in the city and elsewhere were blocked by barbed wire to restrict the movement of the people as policemen went around localities in their vehicles fitted with public address system, warning the residents of strict action if they try to violate CrPC Section 144 that has been promulgated across the region.
“Please cooperate with the administration and stay back at your homes…Strict action will be taken against anyone violating the orders by venturing out unnecessarily,” a policeman in one of the vehicles was heard saying.
Jammu and Kashmir has recorded four positive cases of coronavirus — three in Jammu and one in Kashmir — forcing the administration to take various harsh steps, including closure of educational institutions, business establishments and public transport over the past two weeks to counter the threat.
Barring shops dealing with essential items such as groceries and medicines, the markets remained closed in Jammu and elsewhere, officials said, adding the traffic on 270-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway — the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country — was also restricted to vehicles carrying essential commodities only.
“There will be movement of only essential commodities vehicles on the highway from Srinagar towards Jammu for Monday,” a traffic department announcement said.
Meanwhile, the government has issued an advisory to all the private establishments for non-termination of employees and workers from the job or reduce their wages in view of the virus outbreak.
“All the employees of public/private shops, establishments, industrial units, factories, mines, projects and contractors etc in the Union Territory of J&K shall not terminate their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers from job or reduce their wages.
“If any worker takes leave, he shall be deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction in wages for this period,” reads a circular issued by the Labour Commissioner, J&K, Abdul Rashid War, adding if the place of employment is to be made non-operational due to COVID-19, the employees of such units shall be deemed to be on duty.
The advisory has been issued in view of the catastrophic situation due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and consequent possible incidents where the employees/workers are not able to attend to their duties or they have no work to be done and therefore may be forced to go on leave without wages/salaries in absence of work.
“The termination of employees from the job or reduction in their wages in this scenario would further deepen the crisis and will not only weaken the financial condition of the employees but also hamper their morale to combat their fight with this pandemic,” the circular said.