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Visitors asked to vacate Pahalgam as lockdown re-imposed in Anantnag

Anantnag: Tourists, mostly locals, who had thronged Pahalgam soon after the authorities announced opening of public parks were asked to leave on Sunday immediately after Section-144 was clamped across Anantnag district and curbs were imposed on movement of people as well as traffic.
Shopkeepers in the entire district were also asked to ensure that their shutters remain down and no business is conducted.
The stringent measures were taken by the district administration “keeping in view the deteriorating situation vis-à-vis Covid-19.”
“Yes, we have imposed Section-144. The situation is grave and people have not been adhering to either social distancing or taking other precautions, like wearing masks,” Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anantnag KK Sidha told Kashmir Reader.
The decision by the Anantnag district administration was taken a day ahead of the lockdown in Srinagar district. Anantnag has so far witnessed a total of 781 cases, of which 592 have recovered and 14 have died so far.
“The active cases in the district stand at 175,” a senior official in the district administration said.
Early Sunday morning, soon after the decision to impose Section-144 was taken, squads of police and civil departments made rounds of markets in many places and made sure the shops were closed.
“Barricades were laid at certain places and main town Anantnag was made inaccessible for people coming from other areas,” local sources told Kashmir Reader, adding that announcements were made regarding imposition of Section-144 and people were asked not to venture out.
In Pahalgam, meanwhile, public address systems were used to make announcements to ask tourists to leave the place immediately.
“You are asked by the district administration to leave the place immediately and go home. People defying these orders will be punished. People not wearing face masks and found ignoring social distancing protocol will also be brought to book,” said the announcers in areas across Pahalgam.
Hundreds of people had reached Pahalgam, along with their families, soon after the administration announced opening of public parks and gardens in Kashmir.
Visitors in Pahalgam were aghast with the sudden directive asking them to leave.
“We don’t understand what they are up to. One day they announce the opening of public places and the next, they ask us to leave. This is lack of coordination at the very best,” Gowhar Ahmad, who had come to Pahalgam from Srinagar, told Kashmir Reader over phone.
Meanwhile, the other severely affected districts in South Kashmir, including Kulgam (987 cases and 18 deaths) and Shopian (888 cases and 16 deaths) were yet to take a decision regarding re-imposition of a lockdown.