As the number of corona virus cases continues to rise in Telangana with three fresh cases reported taking the total to 36, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao warned of 24 hour curfew with no relaxations if people continue to disobey the complete lockdown imposed by the government till March 31. The warning comes in the wake of various violations by the public who came in large numbers on to the streets in complete defiance of the lockdown. The chief minister also warned of deploying the Army if the people continue to violate the lockdown and will even issue ‘shoot at sight’ orders to the police if need be.
The chief minister said the government was ready to take the harshest measure in the larger interests of Telangana state and its people. Further, those under home quarantine should deposit their passports in the collector’s office. Licences of motorists will be seized by the police if they violate the law, the chief minister said. While asking the ministers to monitor and supervise the efforts being taken in their respective constituencies with regard to containing the spread of corona virus, the chief minister wondered what the 150 corporators in municipalities were doing. Addressing a press conference after a high-level meeting attended by collectors, DGP, SPs, revenue officials and health ministry, the chief minister said, “We live in a democracy, but people should understand that the essence of democracy is not to disobey the law. The government may have to issue shoot at sight orders or even deploy the army to strictly enforce the lockdown. The public should now introspect if such strict measures should be enforced on them. The only way out is to stay indoors and there is no other way,” the chief minister said.
The chief minister said PD Act will be invoked if vendors sell vegetables at exorbitant prices and asked the farmers not to visit the market yards to sell their produce.
The chief minister’s tough talk comes in the wake of three more people being tested positive for Covid-19 in Telangana on Tuesday, taking the total in the state to 36. The state is under a complete lockdown, with only essential services allowed to function. It has imposed a curfew from 7pm to 6am daily to contain the spread of the outbreak.
On Monday and Tuesday, however, a large number of people came on to roads despite DGP Mahender Reddy warning of criminal action if people disobey the lockdown. As part of the measures, schools and educational institutions were closed, a swathe of businesses including pubs, clubs, hotels, gyms, cafes, cinemas, restaurants and other non-essential services were shut. Religious gatherings and places of worship also ordered to observe restrictions were barred. All inter-state borders were closed for passengers, and public transport was shut down. Only goods vehicles will be allowed; private bus services will also not be allowed to function. “Everyone should stay at home till March 31. That is the only way to defeat coronavirus,” KCR declared, announcing that the state government was invoking the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. As a matter of fact, the chief minister himself had appealed with folded hands asking people to stay indoors.
Despite the government pleas to people to isolate themselves by maintaining social distancing and warnings that they could face criminal action, citizens were found to violate the lockdown by coming on to the streets defying the law and law enforcing agencies. The police, including top cops, have marched on to the streets to enforce the lockdown. In some instances, they had to lathicharge the people and issued challans to motorists in order to drive some sense into motorists about the seriousness of the situation. Some even entered into heated agreements with police commissioner Sajjanar and even with Siricilla district collector Krishna Bhaskar when they tried to sensitize people about the seriousness of the situation.