Shutdown brings Telangana to a complete halt
Hyderabad, March 22 (IANS) Deserted roads, closed shops and business establishments and desolate landmarks. The scenes were unprecedented in this historic city and other parts of Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh as ‘Janata curfew to contain the spread of Coronavirus evoked total response in both the Telugu speaking states.
People remained indoors in Hyderabad and other districts of Telangana in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for 14-hour ‘Janata curfew' and 24-hour shutdown called by Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao.
From the beautiful landmarks of Charminar, Mecca Masjid and Moazzam Jahi Market in the old city to sprawling IT parks in Cyberabad and from the usually crowded traditional markets of Begum Bazar and Laad Bazar to shopping malls in posh Banjara Hills and Jubliee Hills, the life in the entire city came to a grinding halt.
With the police enforcing the shutdown, the impact was total in the city and suburbs with a population of over one crore. Barring hospitals and medical shops, the entire markets were shut. The usual hustle bustle at the traffic intersections was missing as posse of policemen stood there advising those seen on the road to go back home.
Not a single shop or road-side eatery was seen open. A few youngsters who came out on roads out of curiosity were turned back by cops with a warning to seize their bikes for repeat violations.
At Mehdipatnam, which used to teem with thousands of vehicles on a normal day, the roads were all totally deserted. A couple of youths were seen capturing the unprecedented scenes in their mobile cameras.
Similar were the scenes in the city's main nerve centres of Punjagutta, Ammerpet, Khairatabad, Lakdi Ka Pul, Nampally, Basheerbagh, Abids, Koti and Secunderabad.
Police commissioners of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda, which cover Hyderabad and surroundings, were active to ensure the success of the shutdown. They not only appealed to people to observe the self-imposed quarantine for their own safety but also ensured that there is no violation of the curfew.
In the IT hubs of HITEC City and Gachibowli, most of the companies allowed their employees to work from home. Only those attending critical jobs at their offices were seen moving in the IT district.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner V. C. Sajjanar ordered closure of all flyovers in the IT hubs to prevent violations of the ‘curfew'. “Some people are coming to see how the city looks. This is not good. They should remain in their homes and spend time creatively with their families,” he said.
Stating that 99 percent of people were indoors, Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar said the cooperation extended by people in this initiative was unprecedented. He said the people should continue the same spirit to break the chain of infection.
Policemen were seen standing on the roads with placards, appealing to people to voluntarily participate in the efforts to check the spread of Coronavirus. “Avoid crowd-Be proud,” read a placard. Other asked students to stay at home and appealed to people to pray at home.
It's a shutdown of different kind in Telangana, which witnessed many shutdowns a few years ago during the campaign for separate statehood. From shutdowns to protest earlier, it's now shutdown to protect.
India's youngest state began 24-hour shutdown at 6 a.m., adding 10 hours to ‘Janata curfew' called by the Prime Minister.
Normal life came to a standstill as buses of state-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) went off the roads while trains came to a halt across the state.
Hyderabad Metro and Multi-Modal Transport System (MMTS) trains were also suspended, bringing public transport to a grinding halt.
People queued up early in the morning to buy milk at several places in Hyderabad. The panic was visible as customers vied with each other to procure milk packets.
The shutdown was total in all 33 districts of Telangana. The state shut its borders with Maharashtra to prevent any movement of people. Health officials were deployed at inter-state check posts to screen those who were permitted to enter.
Maharashtra has the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country.
Telangana has so far reported 21 coronavirus positive cases. The first secondary transmission came to light on Saturday, sending the alarm bells ringing. Son of a man, who had returned from Dubai and tested positive on March 19, was also found infected by the virus.
The ‘Janata curfew' call evoked total response in Andhra Pradesh. Buses and train services were suspended across all 13 districts. Shops and business establishments remained closed in Vijayawada, Amaravati, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Kurnool, Tirupati and other towns.