Covid-19 lockdown: Hundreds stranded at Andhra Pradesh-Telangana borders

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Hundreds of people were left stranded at various checkpoints on the Andhra Pradesh- Telangana borders since Wednesday night as authorities refused to let them into the state in view of the coronavirus lockdown, exposing the communication gap and lack of coordination between the authorities of the two States.

After frantic SOS calls by the stranded persons, including pregnant women and children, AP authorities finally agreed to let them in, on the condition that they be shifted to a quarantine facility.

While those who accepted the government directive were allowed in, others were left at the border points.

As news came in that the student hostels and paying guest facilities were being re-opened in Hyderabad, most of the students chose to turn back.
The AP government said in a release on Thursday morning that 44 people who came from Hyderabad were shifted to a quarantine facility at Nuzividu.

While some others went back to Hyderabad, over 200 persons who refused to move into quarantine were also being sent back, the release said.

"Only those persons with a 'clean certificate' for valid medical reasons are being permitted to enter into the state. Others will not be allowed under any circumstances," the release added.

It all began since late Wednesday evening when people started reaching the border checkpoint at Garikapadu on the National Highway-64.

They carried a special travel permit issued by police authorities in Hyderabad after student hostels and paying guest facilities were abruptly shut down.

Intervention of the local MLA and Government Whip Samineni Udayabhanu did not help as he blamed lack of coordination between the two states authorities for the situation.

Local Deputy Superintendent of Police Ramana Murthy maintained that since the lockdown was in force and the inter-state borders have been sealed, no vehicle or person could be allowed into the state.

The stranded passengers faced severe hardship as there was no water or food in the vicinity.

Also, the panic-stricken passengers were huddled in a group as they awaited some intervention from the higher-ups to end the impasse.

Vijayawada Sub-Collector H M Dhyanachandra visited the spot and said the passengers would be moved to a quarantine facility at Nuzividu, some 40-km away, for isolation and medical examination.

Over 600 people, including a few women and children, set off from Hyderabad in cabs after obtaining special travel permits from the local police. After a smooth ride up to Garikapadu, the borderline between the two states, the vehicles were stopped at around 3.30 pm, leaving the passengers stranded.

"We are a group of students and have been asked to vacate our hostels. The Hyderabad police gave us special travel permit to return to our native place and accordingly we hired a cab and started our journey this morning. We were blocked at this place as the AP police are unwilling to let us in," a student said.

Another person said he was travelling with his wife, into her ninth month pregnancy, after a medical check-up in Hyderabad. "Despite our situation, the police are not willing to let us travel to our destination," he lamented.

The local MLA arrived on the scene and took up the stranded passengers' case with the police but to no avail.

"Those who were going to Guntur from Hyderabad were allowed via Piduguralla but here they blocked everything. There is a clear lack of coordination between the officials of the two states," Udayabhanu said.

He said the passengers could be permitted further journey after conducting required thermal screening tests.

The issue was taken to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy's notice but to no avail, as the officials did not relent.

On Thursday, Guntur district Joint Collector Dinesh Kumar said medical teams were being sent to the border checkpoints to screen the passengers.

"As per rules, the passengers cannot be sent to their villages and they only have to go to a quarantine facility. Only those who agree to this will be allowed into the state," he said.

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