In an incident caught on camera, a devotee from Tamil Nadu was injured after he was beaten up by security personnel at the Alipiri checkpost in Tirupati, the main entrance to the temple town of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh.
The incident took place on Thursday when the devotee, identified as Dilli Babu, was travelling in an Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) bus and was allegedly carrying a few packets of 'gutka' (chewing tobacco) with him. Alcohol and tobacco are strictly prohibited in Tirumala, which is governed by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).
According to reports, when personnel belonging to the Special Protection Force (SPF) noticed the gutka, they seized it and threw it in a dust bin. However, Babu did not heed their request and went ahead and picked the packet back up and put it in his pocket. This angered the security personnel, who were then seen on video, dragging him and repeatedly thrashing him. This happened, even as his family members asked them to stop.
Watch the video below.
Ugly scene at the at foot of seven hills, the adobe of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala-Tirupati. A "devotee" was thrashed by #TTD security allegedly for carrying "Gutkha" at the hill shrine. Whatever is ten truth but beating a person in front of family is not right. #AndhraPradesh pic.twitter.com/15qn63JiFH— Aashish (@Ashi_IndiaToday) June 13, 2019
Meanwhile, the TTD has initiated an internal probe and Executive Officer (EO) Anil Kumar Singhal has asked for a report on the incident.
“The high-handedness of the security sleuths should be condemned. They do not have any right to punish the devotees, though they violate the rules. We will take stringent action against the guilty in the incident,” Assistant Vigilance and Security Officer (AV&SO) A. Surendra was quoted as saying, while responding to the incident.
The TTD, which governs the Sri Venkateswara Temple atop Tirumala in the state, consists of IAS officers, administrators and political appointees, who coordinate with archakas (priests) and oversee the richest Hindu temple in the world.
During 2019-20, the TTD expects an overall revenue of about Rs 3,116 crore, including Rs 1,231 crore from offerings and Rs 846 crore from interest on deposits in nationalised and private banks. The temple is said to have over Rs 12,000 crore in fixed deposits in various banks.