Authorities at the Jammu and Kashmir Bank have unprecedentedly closed Badamwari, the historic almond garden in Downtown at the brink of the spring bloom in Kashmir leaving locals as well as visitors disappointed.
The almond garden located on the foothills of historic Koh-e-Maran here, holds much significance as it heralds the arrival of spring in Kashmir.
More importantly, the pink and white hued bloom inside the garden attracts tourists and locals alike during spring every year so much so the season is synonymous with Badamwari itself.
However, this year around, authorities at the J&K Bank have padlocked the main entry to the garden ironically at a time when it should have been festive and lively.
As of Wednesday, the main gate of the garden was padlocked with the officials of the J&K Bank, which looks after the garden, not allowing visitors inside the park obstinately citing the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, many of them told Greater Kashmir.
Only a few of the camerapersons selectively managed an entry into the garden, a visitor said.
Locals as well as visitors flayed the bank's move to close the garden on the pretext of the pandemic even as public places have already reopened for people.
They said the garden could have been thrown open after following the necessary precautionary measures.
"The bank officials are citing COVID-19, but aren't rest of the parks and all public places for that matter, open?" Numan Bashir, a local questioned.
Criticising the authorities' move to close the garden during peak season, locals as well as visitors said it would be futile to reopen the garden after the flowers wilt.
Official sources at the J&K Bank, while acknowledging about the bank having closed the garden owing to the pandemic, told Greater Kashmir that it will be thrown open for public in coming days while following the necessary COVID-19 SOPs including social distancing among visitors and mask wearing.