Andhra Pradesh

TTD security sleuths face a ‘double challenge’ with pilgrim inflow

A TTD security staff checking a Tirumala devotee by using a hand-held metal detector at Alipiri security point in Tirupati.

A TTD security staff checking a Tirumala devotee by using a hand-held metal detector at Alipiri security point in Tirupati.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Poornachandra Kumar

Chinks in security, vulnerability to virus are the key issue

Scores of shrines under the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) management, including the Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala, are opening up to devotees. This has led to security sleuths facing twin challenges. While getting too close makes them vulnerable to COVID-19, keeping tabs from a safe distance without personal frisking may expose chinks in the security apparatus.

The cops are given single-use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to stay protected. Though social distancing norms are in place, these personnel come into contact with the devotees.

Frisking is avoided and checking is mainly done through Door Frame Metal Detectors (DFMD) and Hand Held Metal Detectors (HHMD).

When the crowd is huge, they are advised to use ropes to control and avoid getting precariously close to strangers. Even the baggage is sprayed with disinfectant and then passed through X-ray scanners for checking contents without touching them.

The main areas of contact are the six lanes in Alipiri toll plaza, foot path routes at Alipiri and Srivarimettu, darshan queue lines leading to the temple, Kalyanakatta (tonsuring centre) and Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam centre (food court), apart from the many temples situated downhill.

“We have issued clear guidelines to the staff on checking pilgrims without frisking. Apart from the 450 trained Special Protection Force (SPF) personnel at our service, we have provided training to nearly 1000 security staff for deployment as and when the situation needs”, TTD’s Chief Vigilance and Security Officer (CV&SO) Gopinath Jatti told The Hindu.

The department procured 2000 face shields and 5000 single-use PPE kits as donation from the devout, while the masks and gloves were procured by the TTD in bulk.

“The idea is to not expose anyone to risk”, points out Mr. Jatti. “We have dogs specially trained in narcotics, which will be deployed at crucial spots”, he explained about curtailing things beyond the purview of metal detectors.

As the COVID-19 situation posed a new challenge, the department found an opportunity to aggressively deploy its bomb disposal teams to minimise man-to-man interface.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:10:12 AM |

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