As PM Narendra Modi announced a 21-day stay-at-home order for the country to tackle COVID-19, security forces in Jammu and Kashmir scrambled to enforce the lockdown. In this, the police and security forces in the region had an advantage over other places as they did not have to be moved to different locations. Since August 5, 2019, the forces have been on the ground across the Kashmir Valley and there has been no pause in the security drill. For example, at the Panthchowk-Parimpora bypass road, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been manning security arrangements every day since last August. This means nothing had to be changed for the COVID-19 lockdown.
Like all highways in Jammu and Kashmir, here too the army’s road-opening party checks the road and oversees convoy movement. The only addition is that the police are back at the checkpoints set up last year across Kashmir to ensure compliance with the lockdown. So far, more than two dozen people have tested positive for COVID-19 and most of them have a recent history of travelling outside the region. Health officials say strict implementation of the current lockdown can save Kashmir from catastrophe as hundreds of people have come here from affected countries. Most of them had gone on pilgrimages to Iran and Saudi Arabia. A large number of students have also returned from China, Bangladesh and Europe. Police in the Valley have charged a number of persons, including an imam of a mosque for violating the restriction orders. Mosques have been asked to remain shut.