For the last one week, thousands of people including students, women and children have been stranded at various checkpoints in the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana border. As the inter-state borders have been closed since March 23 due to countrywide lockdown measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the police forces of the two states have restricted entry to either sides. This has resulted in people being stranded without food and shelter.
On the night of March 26, near Dachepalli town in Guntur district, one of the inter-state borders of the Telugu states, AP Police resorted to lathi charge injuring tens of people including women when the stranded people tried to enter the neighbouring state defying government orders. Reportedly, the police are allowing people to pass through the borders only if they agree for a quarantine of 14 days. According to local media sources, some fifty students have agreed to go to quarantine houses and the remaining turned back.
At another border near Nagarjuna Sagar, hundreds of vehicles lined up on Pondugal bridge as both state police officials denied entry. Stranded people organised a sit-in protest near the check post urging the police to conduct medical check up on them and allow them to proceed their respective hometowns.
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Earlier, Telangana Police had stated that the students who want to travel to other states need to get no objection certificates from their respective police stations in order to travel to their hometowns. Reportedly, most students stranded at the borders claim to possess such certificates but were denied entries.
One reason behind the chaos has been that the private hostels in Telangana, where students from Andhra had been residing for education and coaching, were abruptly closed forcing the students to go back to their hometowns. As all forms of transport have been restricted, those having motor vehicles tried entering the borders and were stranded.
Meanwhile, the Telangana Police have asked the private hostels in Hyderabad to reopen the facilities.
Similar incidents have been reported at the Karnataka- Telangana border and Andhra Pradesh- Tamil Nadu border.
Incidents of people being stranded have been reported in West Godavari, Nellore, Guntur, Krishna and Kurnool districts in Andhra pradesh and Suryapet, Khammam and Medak districts in Telangana.
Adding to the plight of stranded people, several villagers who had panicked over coronavirus have blocked roads preventing transportation.
The lockdown has also resulted in hundreds of intra-state migrant workers stranded within Telangana. With no work in sight for the next few weeks, hundreds of workers have begun to go back to their villages by walking some hundreds of kilometers.
The chaos within the states as well as across the country is a pointer that the unplanned lockdown has resulted into a humanitarian crisis.
At the time of writing, Telangana has reported 45 positive cases of COVID-19, no deaths and one person recovered. Andhra Pradesh has so far reported 12 positive cases and one death.
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