The ongoing lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir will continue for another week till May 24 but a crucial road will be thrown open to allow the annual migration of the nomadic Bakerwal community to the mountainous regions of the Valley, a government spokesperson said on Sunday.
The decision to extend the curfew was taken as part of the coronavirus containment measures after a detailed assessment of the present scenario in the region by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and members of the Covid task force. Sinha held a series of meetings with deputy commissioners, SSPs, and other concerned officers on Sunday, the spokesperson added. Exemption for essential services will continue.
While reviewing district-wise results, the Lieutenant Governor noted that the restrictions have shown positive results. Sinha also sought district-wise feedback on important aspects of the Covid management system pertaining to testing, the impact of curfew, hospital referral system, the functionality of oxygen generation plants, availability of Covid dedicated beds, daily trend of Covid cases, and recovery rate.
“The meetings also discussed the way forward for tackling the spread of coronavirus more effectively,” the spokesperson said. Sinha called for coordinated efforts from all stakeholders to contain the spread of the deadly virus. “Work as a unit to achieve favourable results. Together we can overcome the challenges,” Sinha was quoted as saying. Sinha has set a timeline of 10 days for achieving the target of 100% vaccination of the 45+ years age group with the first dose of vaccine.
After detailed deliberations and inputs from various officers, the government decided to open the Mughal Road to facilitate the movement of trucks carrying fruits and seasonal migration of the Gujjar-Bakerwal community.
Nomadic Bakerwals begin their seasonal migration after the second week of April to the upper reaches of Shivalik, Pir Panjal and Trikuta hills of the Himalayas to escape the rising temperature in the plains. Most of the Bakerwals from Rajouri and Poonch areas take the Mughal Road that connects the Pir Panjal region of Jammu to the Shopian district of the Valley. The road remains closed for six months for vehicular traffic during the winters.
Last year, the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 had disrupted the migration of hundreds of thousands of Bakerwals and Gujjars.
“The government’s decision to open Mughal road and allow migration of the Bakerwals in spite of the lockdown is a welcome step. The government should throw the road open sooner this year as it will help a large migratory population,” said Dr. Javid Rahi, chairman of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation.