Books and stationery shops opened for five hours here on Wednesday as the Jammu and Kashmir administration started allowing controlled business activities in various districts after more than a month-long closure due to the lockdown aimed at preventing the coronavirus disease, officials said
The shops, dealing in books and stationery items, opened at Pakka Danga and other parts of the city around 10 am and continued with their operations till 2 pm, facilitating students who have already been promoted to the next class, the officials said.
On April 7, the administration announced mass promotion for the students affiliated with the Board of School Education up to Class 9 and Class 11 across Jammu region but the students could not buy their course books for the next academic session due to the lockdown.
The nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which has now been extended till May 3.
Though the administration and the private schools have started online classes to kick-start the academic session for the students, the slow speed of mobile internet, which is running at 2G speed after its restoration, has proved a big hurdle for the students who complain of not being able to download the content at this speed.
The 2G internet facility on mobile phones was restored in Jammu and Kashmir on January 25 after remaining suspended since August 5 last year following the Centre's move to abrogate Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union territories -- Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
The opening of the book and stationery shops came as a big relief to the students and their parents who were seen collecting the class books though maintaining the social distancing norms.
Our delegation met the District Magistrate (Jammu) Sushma Chauhan who gave permission for limited operation of our shops with certain restrictions, President Book Sellers Association Harish Gupta told PTI.
He said the student community has suffered immense loss in view of the closure of all educational institutions in the wake of the lockdown and slow speed of the internet.
At least the students can get their books now, he said and demanded free transportation of books and other material from outside Union territory markets for smooth running of their shops.
Daleep Kumar, a local resident, welcomed the opening of these shops and said a large section of the students do not have access to the internet and were facing hardships to pursue their education.
This is a good decision taken by the administration for the welfare of the student community. The lockdown forced the schools to go for online classes but lack of internet or slow speed was playing the spoilsport . It will benefit the students in the coming days, he said.
The authorities in various other districts in the region including Udhampur, Kishtwar and Poonch also allowed limited operation of isolated shops with a request to the customers to maintain social distancing and use face masks while venturing out of their homes.
On Saturday, the administration had permitted opening of select categories of shops in addition to those dealing with essential commodities in rural areas and standalone shops in the urban areas with some conditions amidst the ongoing lockdown.
However, very few shops opened as a majority of the people preferred to stay indoors in view of the coronavirus scare.