Record turnout of pilgrims force police to suspend special privileges extended to some sections of devotees

The police suspended all the VIP passes and other special privileges to various sections as there was strong resentment from the devotees waiting in long queues at the historic Sammakka Sarakka jatara on Friday.

Rural SP L. Kalidas made it clear that the police would not allow anybody, whatever maybe the position, to go straight to the altar bypassing all lines and devotees waiting in queues.

“Today the APSRTC alone ferried six lakh people. About 30 lakh people are waiting to have darshan. How can you expect us to extend special treatment to a particular section of people?,” he said expressing his impatience at the nagging reporters and officials of various departments.

Media people and other influential tried their best to get through the barricades and security but in vain. The police were strict in discharging their duties. At one point of time, they were compelled to use mild force as some pilgrims tried to jump the barricades to move ahead.

As the increasing flow of pilgrims continued into Medaram village, the officials were seen running from pillar to post trying to regulate the crowds. The queues became bigger and bigger with every passing hour till the evening. It was expected that the crowds would thin by evening, but it did not happen.

Those standing in serpentine queues pleaded for water. As the officials banned plastics, they could not get water sachets.

Though the SCCL supplied mini water bottles, they were far from enough going by the demand.

The police had a tough time as the stream of pilgrims flowed uninterruptedly into the village with every passing hour.

Friday being auspicious when both deities adorn the sacred altar, there was heavy flow of devotees. Those who reached on Thursday thronged the altar in serpentine queues. The police and volunteers broke the stream of pilgrims at select points for smooth conduct of jatara.

Devotees moving around the precincts in barricaded queue hurled coconuts, jaggery lumps, vermilion and other offerings at the altar. It was virtually raining coconuts and jaggery at the site. The entire premise was filled with offerings.

The district administration made elaborate arrangements and struck excellent coordination with other agencies.

The temporary hospital set up near the place of worship was teeming with pilgrims seeking medical help. The medical staff worked round-the-clock treating people and distributing medicines.

The NSS, NCC and NGC volunteers supplemented the efforts of the revenue and police in ensuring smooth passage of pilgrims in queue and at important locations guiding and helping the people who came from far off places.

District Collector G. Kishan and SP L. Kalidas said there was no problem this time as the roads were widened.

There was free flow of vehicles from district headquarters to Medaram. Within the village, the roads were widened to allow devotees move freely without jostling, they said.

Hundreds of sanitation workers were seen cleaning the site round-the-clock.