Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Tuesday said that if the people did not adhere to the curfew implemented across the state, he would be forced to issue 'shoot at sight' orders and appealed to citizens to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand.
"If people don't listen to the police, we will need to impose curfews and issue shoot at sight orders. If then also people don't listen, then we will have to deploy the Army. Is that necessary? Should it come to that? People should reflect on this and exercise restraint. We should not make things worse. Please take this seriously and follow self-isolation sincerely," KCR said.
KCR was speaking to reporters after he convened an emergency meeting of senior bureaucrats and police officials to review the situation, following the statewide lockdown till March 31.
With three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Tuesday, the number of coronavirus cases in Telangana now stands at 36.
"No one is critical in the 35 active cases. By April 7, all of them will be discharged. We have taken samples from 19,313 people as of now, most of whom are foreign returnees and their contacts," he said.
Speaking about the curfew imposed between 7 pm and 6 am, KCR said that people should not step out of their houses at any cost.
"If it is an emergency, please dial 100. We will come to you. Till yesterday (Monday), police were requesting you to go back. From today (Tuesday), they will definitely use lathis. Shops will be closed by 6 pm itself. Even if 6:01 pm shop is open, their licenses will be cancelled," he said.
Responding to reports that vegetable prices in Hyderabad had shot up since the lockdown was announced, the Chief Minister said, "Those who indulge in hiking the rates will be jailed under Preventive Detention (PD) Act, their licenses will be cancelled and the stalls will be seized. This is not the time to make a profit. We will consider you traitors of the state if you hike the rates now. Do not do this."
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief also pointed out that only police officers and bureaucrats were on the streets and asked why public representatives were not joining them.
"Public representatives should also enter the field and coordinate with officials. It is our duty. We can't be absent at this time. Please go to your respective constituencies and do what you have been elected for. It is not just the responsibility of police to educate the people at the grassroot level," he said.
Stating that 3,400 vehicles had been stopped at the state's border, KCR said that all of them reached before the lockdown was announced. Therefore, the state government was exempting the toll fee for them to allow them to reach their destinations tonight itself. "After that everything is shut except essential commodities," he added.
Stating that agricultural work and dairy work was allowed, the Chief Minister said that work on irrigation projects would also be allowed to go ahead, after ensuring sanitisation at labour camps and making sure that the workforce was scattered. Work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) was also exempted.
Stating that the disease was under control for now, KCR said, "We are monitoring people in home quarantine constantly.We have ordered to seize the passports of people who are home quarantined if they don't follow the rules. Their passports will also be suspended if needed."
KCR appealed to the public to stay indoors and said that the next few days were crucial in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
According to state authorities, the three new COVID-19 cases identified in Telangana on Tuesday have travel histories to the United Kingdom, Germany and Saudi Arabia.
All the three COVID-19 patients have been admitted to the designated hospital for necessary treatment. The medical condition of all the three patients is reported to be stable.
"It is not restricted to one area. It's a global problem. We should all be cautious and people should cooperate. The disease is in our control for now and we wish to keep it that way. We will work on containing it and making sure that those who are positive don't transmit it to more people," KCR said.