Stampede-like situation at Tirupati over free darshan, 3 hurt | Latest News India

At least three pilgrims suffered injuries on Tuesday morning after a stampede-like situation prevailed at the Govindaraja Swamy cave in Tirupati, where tokens were issued to devotees to having Lord Venkateshwara’s free darshan on top of Tirumala hills.

Thousands of devotees gathered at three counters – Govindaraja Swamy choultry, Srinvasam inn and Bhudevi Complex, where the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) made arrangements for the release of “Sarvadarshanam” tickets to pilgrims to have the Lord’s free darshan.

TTD authorities on Tuesday opened the Vaikuntham queue complex on the Tirumala hills for the Sarvadarshanam token holders for the first time after March 21, 2020, as the temple was closed due to Covid-19 pandemic-forced lockdown.

Since there has been a mad rush of pilgrims for the darshan, the authorities stopped issuing Sarvadarshanam tokens two days ago. But on Tuesday, when the token system rebooted, thousands of pilgrims stopped by the three counters.

At the token counter at Govindaraja Swamy choultry, the pilgrims jostled with each other, resulting in an almost stampede situation. Local police, in addition to TTD security personnel, had a difficult time controlling the growing crowd, TTD officials said.

During the melee, three pilgrims suffered bruises and suffocation. The police immediately moved them to Sri Venkateshwara Ramnarayana Ruia government hospital, where they are declared safe, the TTD officials said.

With the situation getting out of hand, the TTD authorities quickly announced the withdrawal of the token system for the day and said that all pilgrims could go directly to Tirumala hills to have the darshan.

In a statement, TTD public relations officer Thalari Ravi Kumar said there was an enormous rush at three token counters in Tirupati. “With the crowd swelling out of control, however, the TTD has decided to remove the tokens and allow pilgrims directly into Tirumala’s boxes for darshan. The situation is now normal,” he said.

Kumar further said that the TTD also decided to suspend the “break darshan” intended for VVIPs in the selected morning hours for the next five days. He also called on the devotees to prepare for a long stay in queues after a heavy hustle and bustle on the hills of Tirumala.

Earlier, there were reports from devotees who complained that they had to wait long hours to get darshan cards. “There has been no drinking water and food in the queue lines. We should at least be allowed to climb the hills so we can get our heads toned before we get the chance for darshan,” a female pilgrim told local media .

The President of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former Andhra Pradesh Prime Minister N Chandrababu Naidu expressed fear over the difficulties that pilgrims in Tirupati are having to have the darshan of the Lord.

“How can the TTD remain so indifferent as thousands of pilgrims, including women and children, wait for hours together under the scorching sun? The authorities seem to be more interested in making money from the pilgrims, than providing basic amenities such as drinking water and food, “he said.

He demanded that the TTD apologize to the people and extend all facilities to them so that they could have darshan without any problems.

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