Srinagar: Strict restrictions on the movement of people in Kashmir to contain the spread of coronavirus were in force for the 21st consecutive day on Wednesday, even as authorities in the city banned religious congregations on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat.
Officials said tight curbs were in place across the valley in view of the surge in the number of positive cases in Kashmir.
In view of the prevailing health situation, District Magistrate Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has issued an order prohibiting all sorts of religious congregations and public movement on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat in Srinagar.
Shab-e-Barat, also known as the night of forgiveness, will be observed on April 8-9. Members of the Muslim community visit graveyards and offer prayers in memory of their loved ones.
The order issued under Section 144 of CrPC states that the decision to prohibit religious gatherings during the occasion has been taken based on recommendations of authorities and reports from the field besides taking into account the current precarious health situation due to COVID-19 pandemic.
It states that these restrictions will remain enforced through the intervening night of April 8 and 9, adding that violations will attract strict action under Section 188 of the IPC and Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act.
Security forces have sealed off the main roads in the valley and erected barriers at several places to check the unwanted movement of the people and to enforce the lockdown, the officials said.
The markets across the valley were shut and public transport was off the roads with only pharmacies and groceries allowed to open, they added.
Educational institutions across Kashmir have been closed, while all public places including gymnasiums, parks, clubs and restaurants have been shut down more than a week before the nationwide lockdown announced by the Prime Minister.
While the prime minister announced the country-wide lockdown on the evening of March 24, the union territory administration here had on March 22 announced a lockdown across Jammu and Kashmir till 31 March as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The administration said essential services including healthcare personnel have been exempted from the restrictions.
Restrictions were first imposed in many parts of the valley on March 19 to contain the spread of the virus infection. The measures were taken after a 67-year-old woman from Khanyar area of the city, who had returned on 16 March from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah, tested positive for COVID-19 infection.
The authorities have started an aggressive contact tracing campaign across the union territory to contain the spread of the infection.
The total number of positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up to 125, while three patients have died.