Fear of once again losing their livelihood gripped over 2,000 street food vendors of Jammu as authorities decided to impose a night curfew in eight districts of J&K from Friday evening. This step has been taken following a spike in COVID-19 cases in almost all the 20 districts of the UT. The worst victim of this decision would be these street food vendors who already remained idle for over eight months in the year 2020, due to Covid restrictions.

On Friday night, these vendors were asked by the cops to pack up - an hour before the imposition of the curfew. Most of them returned homes without selling their eatables.

"After sitting idle for over eight months during lockdown I have just streamlined my work", Raghunandan Sharma, who earns his livelihood by selling fish in a specified 'Rehri Zone' of posh Gandhi Nagar locality, told International Business Times. "After the imposition of night curfew we are again back to the square one", he regretted, adding, "Our customers mostly visit during late hours."

Cops night curfew
Cops keeping a vigial during night curfew in Jammutwitter

After being repeatedly dislocated from one place to another, a number of unemployed youth had established their small 'food-points', at a specified 'Rehri-Zones' of Jammu city to earn their livelihood. But COVID-19 has shattered all their hopes and there is uncertainty about their future.

During the last two months, these street vendors worked assiduously to bring their lives again on track but after a surge in the coronavirus cases, authorities announced imposing of night curfew from Friday evening in the areas that fall under the jurisdiction of the Jammu Municipal Corporation.

Who are these street vendors?

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Vegetable vendors wait for customers at a market in Mumbai, India, July 12, 2016 (representational image).Reuters file

The majority of these vendors are native of the remotest hilly areas of Kathua and Udhampur districts. In the search for jobs, they have migrated to the cities and towns. These street vendors also provide part-time jobs to a good number of students - who used to collect orders and provide food to customers in their vehicles.

COVID surge in J&K

As J&K is witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases, the administration on Thursday evening directed the divisional administration to impose a night curfew from 10 pm to 6 am in the urban areas of the eight districts of J&K, including two capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.

On Friday, 808 new cases were reported in the Valley – 525 in Kashmir and 283 in Jammu, including former Chief Minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah and seven MBBS students of Government Medical College (GMC) Anantnag while 312 recovered from the virus.

Two days after NC president Farooq Abdullah was discharged from hospital after testing COVID positive, his son Omar Abdullah got infected, just a couple of days after he received the first jab of the vaccine.