Government’s functioning impacted as positive Covid-19 cases rise in higher-ups of administration.



Srinagar: The administration of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is reeling under the impact of recent Covid-19 positive cases in the higher-ups of the administration. This has affected functioning of the government, both in Jammu and Srinagar. Common people have been accusing the administration of being inaccessible, despite their grievances.

The government is responding to these allegations by claiming that dozens of senior officers and their staff are in self-quarantine, as one senior IAS officer tested positive.

With Covid positive cases showing a steep rise, people are blaming the administration for allowing families of officers, both in police and administration, to have a life at home and allowing them to mingle with people. Many residents of Srinagar have said that the present rise in the Covid cases is due to violation of rules set by the same administration for flattening the pandemic curve.

Earlier, two family members of advisor to Lt. Governor tested positive and forced the administration to send dozens of officials who were in contact with the advisor into self quarantine.

In the past one week, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has come under severe criticism from political parties and civil society members for the spread of Covid-19 and for breaking the rules of standard operating procedures (SOPs) set up by them for common people and flouted for their families and close friends.

“The Covid-19 case was the result of not following SOPs by a senior police officer at Srinagar airport when he allowed his close relative to move home without any tests. People of Srinagar are still bearing the brunt of his violation, while the government is silent about the action taken against the police officer,” said a local doctor at a Covid hospital of Srinagar, as doctors have been barred from talking to the media by a circular issued by the administration. He said that there have been a lot of violations by senior officers and they are taking the fight of doctors and paramedics against the pandemic very casually.

Principal Secretary to Government, Dheeraj Gupta, a senior IAS officer, tested positive and before his tests, he has been in Srinagar and Jammu, attending several high-level meetings. These meetings were attended by dozens by officers and IAS officers, sending alarm bells in the entire administration, as, according to some reports, more than half of the administration is under self-quarantine.

Government spokesman Rohit Kansal, who is a senior IAS officer having charge of many departments including PDD, told the media that after an IAS officer tested Covid-19 positive, he was moved to a hospital in Jammu and as per protocol, all his contacts have gone into self-quarantine. Kansal himself is in self-quarantine, while the people, especially civil society members, say that they should have followed their own set protocol.

“Why not mandatory institutional quarantine for IAS officers and their family members, why home quarantine for them, rules are for fools in Jammu and Kashmir” said Zahoor Ahmad Dar a journalist and civil society member. People have a lot of complaints against police and administration as according to the police statement they have filed FIR’s of about 4000 against common people and have seized over 5000 vehicles so far for violating the set protocol and have panelized people under Disaster Management Act-2005.

Dheeraj Gupta, a senior IAS officer, was a Nodal Officer to oversee arrangements for returning stranded passengers, outside the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and held meetings in Kashmir when he came here on 23 May. According to officials accompanying him, he reviewed the facilities at Srinagar airport and finalised the SOPs for receiving and facilitating the returnees on 24 May and met dozens of officers and officials. At least 60 officers from the police and administration have gone into self-quarantine.

Earlier too, many officials who were in contact with Advisor to Lieutenant Governor Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar went into self-quarantine after two of his family members, on their arrival from New Delhi, tested positive for Covid-19. Reports said that dozens of officials have gone into self-quarantine due to this development, in Jammu too.