Devotees who thronged the temple on Vaikunta Ekadashi alleged that VIPs were given preferential treatment and those waiting in the queue were not even provided basic amenities.

Devotees shouting slogans and protesting at the Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala
news Controversy Friday, January 14, 2022 - 11:58

Slogans of ‘EO (Executive Officer) down down’ reverberated through the Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, January 13, amid the Vaikunta Ekadashi  darshan. The devotees alleged that due to inadequate arrangements made by the Executive Officer (EO) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which oversees affairs at the temple, they were forced to wait in the queue for hours without food and water. Devotees also expressed their outrage over alleged preferential treatment provided to VIPs, who skipped the queue for the darshan.

A devotee who visited the temple said, "They gave us a 2 pm slot for darshan. We finally got our chance at 8.30 pm. There was no food or water during this time. Devotees went through a lot of trouble. If we asked questions to authorities, police were seen pushing us back. Should devotees be scared of them?"

A woman devotee said, "We were forced to stand in line for so long with our kids and VIPs kept going. They packed us all together even though we also paid for the darshan as well. Won't COVID-19 spread now? Policemen are also constantly roughing us up. Those VIPs with a lot of money are taking groups of people with them in front of our eyes because they have money. Do you think no one will ask? TTD EO did not make proper arrangements. He should resign. We came in the morning and we're still here in the evening.  Who should we tell our troubles to?"

Another man who came with his wife and their children to the temple, said, "We were forced to stand with our little children. There was no milk or any food. They put us in a room and locked us up." The man was later seen being roughed up by the police as he tried to speak to reporters.

All this, despite the claims by the TTD on Wednesday, that all arrangements had been made at the temple, in expectation of the devotees who would visit on January 13. “All the categories of devotees including VIPs, Rs.300 darshan ticket holders and Sarva Darshan devotees are given time slots to avoid unnecessary waiting in queue lines. All the devotees are requested to have Vaikunta Dwara Darshanam following COVID-19 norms and cooperate with TTD management,” a press release by the TTD on January 12, quoted him as saying.

When the devotees were finally allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, they started staging raising slogans and tried to sit on a dharna against the EO, alleging poor management on the TTD’s part.

Meanwhile, according to reports, the list of VIPs who visited the temple include Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, AP High Court Chief Justice Prasanth Kumar Misra, Telangana ministers T Harish Rao, Gangula Kamalakar, Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Andhra Pradesh minister Audimulapu Suresh and several others.

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