Staff Reporter

Policemen drawn from districts stop Corporation Commissioner, Mayor

TIRUCHI: Notwithstanding tall promises made at consultative meetings for ensuring smooth regulation of queues during the Vaikunta Ekadasi festival at Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, the security arrangements left much to be desired in at least three places during the ‘Swargavasal’ procession on Monday.

The congestion was quite unusual at the ‘Thurai Pradakshanam’ on the Kulasekaran Chutroo Merku close to the Paramapadavasal -- the third and final entry door for the VIPs and dignitaries to witness the rituals – was avoidable, according to regular visitors.

Dignitaries who usually use this entry point to position themselves ahead of Namperumal were shocked to find the grill-door locked. Swelling of the crowd at around 4.20 a.m. when the Namperumal was just a few metres away only made the task of opening the gate tougher.

Deputy Commissioner of Police S. Rajendiran was left with no option but to physically drag the devotees from the elevated Thurai Pradakshnam to an adjacent praharam. Due to the darkness, a devotee stumbled and fell on a flat rectangular stone meant for use as a step, and a couple of women were heard raising an alarm for safety. Such confusion was not witnessed in the past years.

The shortcomings in police arrangements showed up even earlier at the entrance to the Aryabhattal Vasal. At around 1.45 a.m., police personnel were found struggling to facilitate smooth entry of devotees and those possessing special tickets. Pudukottai District Superintendent of Police P. Moorthy led from the front to form a safety ring using a tough nylon rope to ease the situation.

Be it pass-holding officials, donors or politicians, many had heated exchanges with police personnel at the Mahendran Tiruchutru in front of the Sandana Mandapam entrance. Mediapersons came to the rescue of some of them who were not identified by the police personnel drawn from other districts as well for security duty. Those who were made to wait included Corporation Commissioner T.T. Balsamy, Mayor S. Sujatha and her parents; and former Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan.

Installation of a new metallic door this year on the ‘Mahendran Tiruchittroo’, in fact, caused discomfiture, failing to serve the desired purpose.

Chairman of Board of Trustees of the temple, P. K. Thiyagarajan, said that the crowd turnout this year was unprecedented. In most cases, each pass-holder took along five more persons, overburdening the police’s task of identification and crowd regulation. This was stated to be the cause for the difficulties faced even by pass-holders to enter the ‘Paramapadavasal’ route.