In an alarming revelation, honorary chief priest of Tirumala temple A V Ramana Dikshitulu stated that at least 15 archakas (priests) contracted the deadly Covid-19 infection.
Taking to his Twitter handle, Ramana Dikshitulu said, “Of the 50 priests in Sri Vari temple, 15 archakas were tested positive for the corona virus. Additionally, test results of 25 archakas are awaited. The TTD should temporarily suspend darshans. Despite the archakas contracting the virus, the TTD has not stopped allowing darshans. The current political dispensation is following the anti-Brahmanical policies of Chandrababu Naidu. One can expect a major disaster in Tirmuala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala. CBN has illegally unconstitutionally retired 20+ hereditary archakas. Hon high court ordered TTD to take us back. Jagan promised to take us back. But TTD EO and AEO still obey CBN and refuse to implement court orders and Jagan’s instructions. We still wait.
The TTD Staff and Workers United Front have written to the TTD Executive Officer requesting that darshan at the temple be temporarily suspended.
Dikshitulu’s statement goes against the claims of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Trust Board chairman Y V Subba Reddy. On July 4, Subba Reddy claimed that not even a single devotee tested positive for COVID-19 since resumption of services at the Venkateswara temple in Tirumala on June 8. He had claimed that only 17 employees of the devasthanams tested positive.
Reacting sharply to Ramana Dikshitulu, Subba Reddy advised the honorary chief priest to put forth any issue before the TTD Trust Board and desist from making public statements. Further, Subba Reddy stated that he had directed the TTD officials to discuss the issues being brought to the fore by Ramana Dikshitulu. “Ramana Dikshitulu was appointed as honorary chief priest by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy. We have taken all necessary measures to protect the priests. The TTD Trust Board is also willing to temporarily suspend darshans in the interests of archakas,” Subba Reddy said.
Meanwhile, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said, “None of the devotees have any health issues. We called 700 devotees between June 18 to 24 and called 1,943 devotees between July 1 to 7. All of them replied that they are healthy,”
However, according to some reports, hundreds of TTD staff and devotees tested positive for the virus ever since Tirumala temple reopened on June 11 which remained shut for nearly 85 days due to the lockdown.