Srinagar’s Urdu newspaper, facing losses because of lockdown, puts mask on front page to aware readers about coronavirus pandemic

On Monday, Jammu and Kashmir recorded its highest single-day spike of 751 coronavirus cases

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Delhi: In an attempt to create awareness about the use of masks during the Coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday an Urdu daily published from Srinagar distributed a mask for free along with each newspaper. On the front page of Urdu daily Roshni, the caption besides the mask read, “Mask ka istemal zaroori hai” meaning “It is necessary to use (wear) a mask”.

“We decided to take this symbolic step after seeing many locals without a mask,” said Zahoor A Shora, editor of Roshni, speaking over the phone from Srinagar.

“Many people still think that Coronavirus is nothing but a hoax. What they are not realising is that by not wearing a mask, they aren’t just risking their own lives, but also those of others around” he said. “Since now even asymptotic people are testing positive, it becomes all the more important to wear a mask,” Shora warned.

When asked whether this was just for a day or the newspaper would continue to distribute more of these in future? Shora replied, “It is not financially viable for us to do it on a regular basis as even an ordinary mask costs more than the price of our newspaper.”

According to him, Roshini is priced at Rs. 2 and had to go through losses due to constant lockdowns since August (Kashmir is under lockdown since August 5, 2019 when Article 370 was abrogated) last year. “In any case, the idea was to spread awareness, not distribute masks,” he added.

He hoped that with this, people would realise the gravity of the situation and help each other to come out of it. The newspaper also published an editorial note on the front page explaining the same and the responsibility of the different stakeholders, along with data related to Coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to Srinagar based journalist Zahoor Hussain Bhat, this is an important gesture on the part of the newspaper as people in Kashmir were taking importance of wearing masks very lightly.

On Monday, Jammu and Kashmir recorded its highest single-day spike of 751 coronavirus cases. According to a news report by India Today, ten new deaths were also registered in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 254.

There are now 6,122 active cases in the Union Territory, while 8,274 patients have recovered. Officials said that Srinagar district recorded the highest 171 new cases on Monday.

“While the numbers surge, experts believe that wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing are the strongest tools to save one from coronavirus,” the report added.

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