Anti-Coronavirus measures in AJK

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  • Arrival of foreign tourists banned for 3 weeks
  • Section 144 already imposed forthwith in state
  • 249 Chinese tested but no result declared
  • 97 pilgrims also tested, all were cleared
  • PM House turned into quarantine centre
  • Educational institutions closed, gatherings prohibited

MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Government has imposed three-week ban on tourist arrivals in ‘Azad Kashmir’ as a precautionary measure to deal with the increasing threat of corona pandemic in the region. It was decided on Tuesday (March 17) at a Cabinet meeting presided over by the senior minister Chudhary Tariq Farooq in Muzaffarabad.

On the occasion, the Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana briefed the cabinet members regarding the steps being taken to stop the outbreak of corona virus epidemic in Azad Kashmir. The participants of the meeting stressed the need for mobilizing the district administration for raising awareness among the common masses.

It is pertinent to mention here that the AJK government on Saturday decided to impose section 144 as precautionary measure to help stop the spread of Corona Virus in the state. Under the new regulation gathering of more than four people would be banned and on violation, people would be arrested and sentenced.

During the meeting, it was revealed that a high level state coordination committee has been set up to deal with Corona. “Ten district hospitals including AIIMS, CMH have separate wards to deal with these patients”, they said adding that the quarantine facility was available. Moreover district administration and the police have also been fully mobilized to deal the situation.

The ministers were also briefed about the public awareness campaign being set in motion to educate general masses. It was stated that necessary instructions for the protection of the Corona virus have also been uploaded on the website and social network sites. The participants of the meeting were briefed about the presence of Chinese citizens in Azad Kashmir.

There are currently 249 Chinese residents in Azad Kashmir who have been tested but the result was not disclosed. 97 pilgrims, who also have been tested, declared clear. They pointed out that Corona has affected many countries, including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Spain. They expressed satisfaction over the steps being taken at state level to control the epidemic.

It was said that the pilgrims coming from abroad via Balochistan were being picked up from Dera Ghazi Khan in special ambulances and tested properly. “Special wards in Chaman Kot, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur have been setup for corona- virus affected patients”, the authorities present in the meeting said adding that ambulances were present in every district and initially a grant of Rs 5 million has been released on emergency basis to deal with the situation. Moreover, special teams have been deputed at all eleven entry points of Azad Kashmir.

The cabinet members were told that all educational institutions, including schools, colleges, medical colleges, technical and vocational institutions, universities (government and private) have been closed immediately for the next three weeks.

“During this time all tuition centres will also be closed. In addition, all religious madrassas, marriage ceremonies, halls, etc. will also remain closed”, the authorities said adding that all religious gatherings and other ceremonies, except prayer and congregation, will remain suspended for the next three weeks.

Raja Mushtaq Ahmed Minhas, Chaudhry Rukhsar, Raja Siddique, Raja Abdul Qayyum, Chaudhry Mohammad Aziz, Nasir Dar, Syed Iftikhar Gilani, Raja Naseer Khan, Chaudhry Khalid Masood, Ahmad Raza Qadri, Col. (R) Waqar Noor, Syed Shaukat Shah, Raja Javed Iqbal, Chaudhry Shehzad, Chaudhry Masood Khalid, Dr. Najib Naqib, Sardar Farooq Tahir, Chaudhry Ismail, Special Advisor Raja Imdad Tariq, Special Adviser Zia Sardar, Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana, Secretary Raja Amjad Pervaiz, Secretary Information, Tourism and IT Ms. Midhat Shahzad, Secretary Finance Asmatullah Shah, Secretary Services Chaudhry Liaquat Hussain, Secretary Health and Additional Secretary Interior Masoodur Rehman and others attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, a day earlier on Monday (March 16), the AJK PM Raja Farooq Haider Khan directed authorities to take several immediate steps to effectively deal with the increasing threat of corona pandemic in the region. In this connection, the Prime Minister directed the concerned quarters to make quarantine arrangements at the newly constructed PM House for the suspected patients of the deadly virus.

The newly constructed PM house was built at a cost of Rs. 780 million as the previous one was devastated in the earthquake 2005. The project of the construction of Prime Minister House was also among the other reconstruction projects in quake hit areas of the state. Raja Farooq Haider after being elected as Prime Minister, refused to be shifted into the new PM house saying that such palace doesn’t suits to the Prime Minister of the base camp of the Kashmir liberation movement.

Later, the Prime Minister allocated the same building for the Cancer Hospital in the capital city, which after technical inspection declared unsuitable for it. Meanwhile, the government has step up its efforts for screening travellers to the AJK at all entry points. He has directed concerned quarters to maintain ban on public gatherings, wedding ceremonies and other festivals and fairs for three weeks time period.

Meanwhile, PM Raja Farooq Haider held a meeting with President Sardar Masood and discussed overall situation particularly the challenging circumstances developed due to pandemic Corona Virus. The situation at LoC and measures to tackle any odd situation was also come into consideration.

High level meeting

The AJK government on Saturday decided to impose section 144 as precautionary measure to help stop the spread of Corona Virus in the state. Under the new regulation gathering of more than four people would be banned and on violation, people would be arrested and sentenced.

The decision was taken at a high level meeting of State Coordination Committee presided over by PM Raja Farooq Haider Khan here on Saturday.
Addressing on the occasion, Raja Farooq Haider Khan directed the concerned authorities to keep close liaison with all relevant segments of the society including ullema to aware masses about the corona pandemic. He also directed to use local newspapers, polio teams, teachers and district administration to educate the public about the epidemic effectively.

He instructed the concerned quarters to regularly submit the progress report to the Chief Secretary office in this regard. He asked to properly monitor and check those visiting AJK from Europe and other foreign countries. “AJK is safe yet but we need to take solid steps to ensure future safety”, he added.

Earlier, briefing the meeting, Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana told that there were six suspected cases of corona virus in which four were declared clear while two were quarantine. Meanwhile, the approval of the 18 members State Coordination Committee to be headed by Prime Minister was also accorded.

Minister Health, Minister State Disaster Management Authority, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police and other high level officials are part of this committee. He briefed that all district health officers have been directed to remain alert.
The Chief Secretary told that teams are available on all entry points to check the passengers coming to the state. He informed the meeting that pilgrims from Iran will be kept in quarantine for 14 days in Mirpur. AJK Cabinet members, secretaries and other concerned officials attended the meeting.

Maintenance allowance

Meanwhile, the AJK Cabinet gas approved monthly “Guzzara Allowance” (maintenance allowance) for the families of those killed in alleged Indian firing at Line of Control (LoC).

Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan presided over the meeting. Under the AJK Cease Fire Line Incidents Relief (Amendment) Act, 1992, the families will get Rs. 2000 each family member per month. Under the Act, 755 individuals of belonging to 171 families from 2016 till date would benefit from this package. The government will bear Rs. 20 million in this regard.

Moreover, the affected families have also being included in BISP Ehsas Program in addition to 10 lakh rupees lump-sum compensatory grant. The cabinet also approved AJK Human Rights Commission Act 2020. The Commission will prepare report about human rights issues and victims of torture and aggression. The Commission will enjoy judicial powers.

The Cabinet also approved amendments in AJK Election Commission Act 1970, Electoral and Delimitation Acts 1970 and Political Parties Act 1987.

Addressing the cabinet, Raja Farooq Haider Khan said that his government will take all possible care to the families of the LoC martyrs as it is the responsibility of the state. The cabinet also approved a number of identical resolutions strongly condemning continues curfew, lockdown and restrictions on free movement of people in Jammu &Kashmir. The Cabinet appealed international community to take a serious notice of the Indian ‘atrocities’, barbarism and genocide of Kashmiris following 5th August 2019.

On the issue of Indian Muslims, the Cabinet condemned killings of the Muslims, disgracing women and damages to the properties of Muslims under government patronage in New Dehli and asked UN and other global human rights bodies to take serious notice of the situation and stop India’s illegal and inhuman actions. Such atrocities exposed the so called secular and democratic notion of India.

Earlier, the cabinet offered Fatiha (pray) for the pilot Wing Commander Nouman in PAF plan crash in Islamabad and Col Mujeeb who was killed in terrorist attack in Dera Ismail Khan.