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Telangana police stopped 60 ambulances with critical COVID-19 patients entering their territory. Photo for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: AP

Hyderabad: A bizarre and tense situation prevailed on Andhra Pradesh-Telangana border state as Telangana police stopped 60 ambulances with critical COVID-19 patients entering their territory.

While many of the emergency cases had to look for alternatives, at least two patients died on a border check post between Kurnool and Gadwal districts.

The unsavory drama took place despite a clear order of Telangana High Court that no person seeking medical help should be stopped from entering the state from any other neighboring state including Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Ugly turn

Though the order was issued earlier this week, Telangana police remain adamant endangering several lives. Situation threatened to take an ugly turn at least two patients from the same family died in ambulance in the absence of ventilators.

The patients, like at least 60 others were on their way to Hyderabad, which has superior medical facilities and better hospitals. But they were stopped at the two entry points of Telangana Suryapet and Gadwal check posts by the police demanding documentary proof that they have got confirmed admission in a Hyderabad hospital.

A video showing a burqa clad woman Rehmatunissa crying and seeking help from the police officials to take her husband Abdullah to Hyderabad at the check post went viral on social media. The patient on oxygen support was on his way from Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad but his ambulance was not allowed to cross the border. It evoked a sharp out cry from the ordinary people wanting to know whether Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were two different countries.

Finally a MLA from Andhra Pradesh Hafiz Khan intervened to save Abdullah’s life by getting him admitted in near by Kurnool city of Andhra Pradeh.

Kurnool district superintendent of police had to send two Oxygen cylinders form his office to the check post to help two other seriously ill patients.

The crisis continued till late in the night when High Court issued a fresh and dire warning to the police officials of Telangana not to stop any ambulance. The High Court termed the Telangana government orders as unconstitutional.

No power

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ms Hima Kohli staying the Telangana government’s guidelines said that denying ambulances permission was not only a violation of the constitution and the orders of High Court but also of the National Highway Act under which the state governments do not have power to control movement on National Highways.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were a single united state till 2014 when it was bifurcated. Though Hyderabad continues to be a joint capital of the two states on paper, the two state governments are being run from their respective capitals.

While the political leaders and officials of Andhra Pradesh have strongly condemned the restrictions on the flow of patients on humanitarian ground and termed it inhuman act, Telangana officials said that the restrictions were imposed to prevent over burdening of the health care system in Hyderabad.

While Telangana has relatively less positive case at a daily average of around 6000, the situation in Andhra Pradesh was far worse with positive cases of more than 20,000 per day.