Hyderabad: Even as the Centre has extended the lockdown by two more weeks until17 May, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is expected to continue the restrictions until after Ramzan festival that is likely to be held on 24 May. Currently, entire Telangana is under lockdown until7 May as per an earlier notification. Chief Minister KCR has convened a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to take stock of the situation arising out of the Centre’s decision to extend the lockdown by two weeks as well as the Covid cases spread in the state. Health Minister Etela Rajender told this newspaper on Saturday: “Our CM will take a final call on the lockdown on Tuesday; until then, the situation remains the same in the state.”

Until 7 May, the full lockdown conditions remain in force in the entire Telangana irrespective of certain relaxations announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs. As per the Central guidelines, several shops and establishments and public movement are allowed in green and orange zones from 4 May, but they are not applicable in Telangana until7 May.
The bigger dilemma of Chief Minister KCR is whether to allow the sale of liquor in green zones where there are no cases of Covid for the last 21 days. As per the latest notification, of the total 33 districts in the state, six are placed in red zone, while 18 in orange zone and the remaining nine are mentioned as the green zone. “This issue too will be decided by the Cabinet,” said Rajender.
Like all other states, Telangana too depends on excise (sale of liquor) for its major chunk of revenues but allowing it in the green zone from May 8 is ridden with some practical problems, according to officials in the excise department. For example, Warangal (rural) district is shown as green zone while the adjacent Warangal (urban) is part of red zone.
“It is very difficult to monitor sale and transport of liquor from one zone to another as both are part of Warangal city. If we go for police checking, people may complain of harassment, otherwise we might be accused of neglecting our duties,” said a senior official of Excise and Prohibition department from Warangal city.
Sources close to the CM said KCR might prefer to extend the lockdown at least until after Ramzan festival keeping in mind the practical problems in Hyderabad as well as other cities where Muslims are concentrated in large numbers. “Ramzan is a major festival where large congregation of devotees in prayers is a challenge,” said a DCP from Old city of Hyderabad. Certain stray incidents in Hyderabad particularly in the Muslim populated Old City in the last few days have become a point of concern to the authorities. In an incident, AIMIM MLA from Malakpet, Mohammed Balala forced police to return from a mosque when they tried to enforce social distancing there after the fasting two days ago. BJP leaders demanded that the MLA be arrested for his act.
Since 25 April, there were incidents of gatherings of Muslims before and after the fasting and police had to remain mute witnesses, thanks to the volatile situation in the areas. The CM who is reviewing the situation every day is understood to have expressed his anguish over these violations but he is not in a position to use force now.