The three day-old curfew in the sensitive old city of Hyderabad will be relaxed for the first time on Thursday for two hours in the morning, city police commissioner A K Khan said.
Khan told mediapersons that the curfew will be relaxed for two hours only in the 17 police stations of Old City and not in the other parts of the city.
While in first phase it will be relaxed from 8 to 10 am in nine police station limits, in the second phase relaxation will be for two hours from 11 am to 1 pm in 8 other police stations.
"Only women and the men above fifty years of age will be allowed to come out to purchase essential commodities including milk, medicine, vegetable and other groceries," he said.
He advised the people to buy the essential goods sufficient at least for two days as the curfew may not be relaxed in these areas on Friday.
On the relaxation of curfew in other 8 police station where it was imposed, Khan said that it will depend on how the relaxation will pass tomorrow.
The decision came as situation in the riot-hit areas in the city remained peaceful, though ordinary people were facing a lot of hardships due to the non-availability of milk, medicine and other essential commodities.
A K Khan told mediapersons that there was no untoward incident anywhere in the 25 police station limits where curfew was enforced. "Situation is under control," he said.
According to the commissioner, 190 people have been arrested so far in connection with the communal violence, which broke out on Saturday night over a dispute on putting up a religious flag in the old city. The violence has left two persons dead and more than a hundred injured. Police have booked 67 criminal cases, Khan added.
Meanwhile, in another important move, the police and the municipal corporation have launched a drive to remove all the religious flags of different communities form the public places. They include both the green and saffron flags. "These flags were the root cause of the trouble breaking out," Khan said.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah has also issued instructions to the police not to allow any religious procession or meeting in the twin cities in view of the surcharged atmosphere. The decision was taken in view of the outbreak of violence during the processions organised by the Bajrang Dal on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti on Tuesday.
Khan also issued a stern warning against the misuse of SMS facility to spread rumours and propel hatred among people.
"We have reliably learnt that some mischievous elements with vested interests are spreading rumours, feelings of hate and mistrust through SMS among the citizens. These people are also asking the recipients of such SMS to forward it to as many people as possible. We hereby appeal to all the citizens of Hyderabad not to believe such baseless and hate messages, not to forward them to others and delete them instantaneously," Khan said in a press note.
He warned that such activities were absolutely illegal and would attract imprisonment upto 3 years under section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code and IT Act, 2008.
Meanwhile, there was a long queue of people at the offices of the senior police officials for the curfew passes as they were facing a lot of hardship because of the curfew. "We are not getting even milk for children and medicine for old diabetic patients," said some women who had dared the police lathis to come out.
A person carrying his young son told mediapersons at the Charminar police station that the child was badly sick since last night but he was not able to take him to the hospital. "I am not able to decide what to do," he said.
Taking advantage of the situation, some unscrupulous elements were selling milk at Rs 50 per litre. Taking note of the problems of the people, the chief minister has directed the civil supplies department to ensure the availability of essential commodities to the people in curfew-bound areas.
With heart of the city under curfew, the inter district bus service has also been curtailed. All the buses coming from other places were being stopped at different places in the outskirts of the city and passengers were also finding it difficult to reach their destinations.
Image: A desolate Charminar on Wednesday after curfew was clamped over parts of the old city of Hyderabad