Over 30 persons injured in stampede-like instances during ‘Garuda Seva’
Confusion and disorder reigned supreme during ‘Garuda Seva’ organised at Tirumala on Wednesday night as part of the ongoing nine-day annual Brahmotsavams at the temple of Lord Venkateswara.
Lakhs of devotees from different parts of the country converged atop the hill town to participate in the celestial procession of ‘Garuda Seva’. Though the TTD authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the grand success of the event, their efforts proved futile as officials of various departments overseeing the festival lacked coordination. Over thirty persons were injured and several instances of near stampede-like situation marred the occasion. The devotees in Arathi queue lines were subjected to great difficulties, thanks to the tumultuous jostling that dominated the proceedings despite the presence of hordes of security personnel.
Besides, the on duty police personnel, who stood guard at important entry points in the mada streets, were rather busy helping their kith and kin get the glimpse of the procession forgetting the general public. On the other hand, indiscriminate issuance of VIP and VVIP passes also led to the commotion at the ‘vahana mandapam’ much ahead of the commencement of the festival.
However, the decision of the TTDs Executive Officer M.G. Gopal to advance the procession by over one-and-a-half hours nevertheless mollified the situation particularly at the sprawling space available in front of the main temple complex which was already bursting to its seams with pouring-in crowds. Amidst all these, both the TTD authorities and police tried to throw the blame on each other.