Scores of citizens were caught in the sudden shutdown of the twin cities, at least for a few hours late on Saturday afternoon as television news bulletins of trouble breaking out at Punjagutta spread panic all over.

Employees and others hurriedly rushed out to reach to their respective destinations only to notice buses off the roads, shops closing down and fuel filling stations shut. Further fuelling the chaos and fear was rumours spread about violence in different parts.

The 48-hour bandh call given by Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS) made matters only worse as many rushed to buy essential commodities like vegetables and fuel but closed shops or ‘no stock' signs paid to their hopes.

“The moment I saw television visuals of shops being shut down, I went and purchased vegetables for three days and also bought milk powder just in case,” says Prasad Rao, a resident of Dwakapuri Colony.

“Prices will certainly shoot up so I bought provisions to last for at least four days,” says Sri Valli, a resident of Begumpet.

While many stocked their larders, bachelors - Sivanagesh and Jagan Reddy have been left wondering where their next meal will come from.

“Our mess is closing down because it was attacked for serving ‘Andhra' food! With hotels too being shut, we don't know where our next meal will come from,” sighs Siva Nagesh, a software employee.

Hot commodities

Petrol and diesel were the most sought as most filling stations were shut down in the fear of being attacked. Despite pleas by motorists, owners refused to relent saying they would only open if adequate police protection was provided.

Serpentine queues of vehicles extending on to the main road were a common sight. “We don't want to risk our property,” said Kausib Pakshi, an owner.

At the few that remained open, it was literal madness as vehicles vied for every inch of space available giving the staff a tough time. Many rushed clutching cans and bottles.

With buses suddenly going off roads after they were targeted by agitators at KPHB, Ameerpet, Punjagutta and other places, stops were swarming with commuters.

Autos made a fast buck charging exorbitant fares from the gullible public. Several commuters were seen requesting ‘lifts'.

Some of the busiest roads like Ameerpet-Panjagutta wore a deserted look.

Services withdrawn

RTC authorities withdrew services on many roads after 3.30 p.m., only skeletal services through ordinary buses were run on diverted routes. These were packed to capacity. Few services were restored later in the night.

All the Metro Express, Deluxe and AC buses were confined to depots. Hyderabad Regional Manager, M. Sitapati said the city as well district services on Sunday will be based on police advice.