Complete lockdown in Tirupati, questions raised over TTD

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Municipal authorities have intensified their efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections in the temple town of Tirupati with alarming rise in positive cases.

On Tuesday, the municipal staff have started santitising the hotspots in Tirupati as complete lockdown was reimposed in the temple town from Monday till August 5 to check its spread.

The district administration on Monday reimposed complete lockdown to contain the spread of the virus which will be enforced from 6 am to 11 pm till August 5. People will be allowed to buy essentials such as vegetables and groceries between 6 am and 11 pm daily although commercial establishments would remain closed during the lockdown period. Tirupati has seen a surge in infection rates after the complete lockdown was lifted. Currently, Tirupati has reported more than 1,700 positive Covi-19 cases of the total 5,400 COVID-19 cases in Chittoor district.

While the complete lockdown has been reimposed in Tirupati, Sri Vari darshans have not been halted by the TTD despite the growing number of archakas (assistant priests) testing positive for Covid-19. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had recently held an emergency meeting of officials to discuss the demand for a temporary suspension of darshan for devotees in view of increasing number of archakas (assistant priests) testing positive for coronavirus. Around 18 archakas were tested positive for Covid-19. Recently, Sri Sri Satagopa Ramanuja Pedda Jeeyangar tested positive for Covid-19. He was shifted to Apollo Hospitals in Chennai for better treatment.

On July 16, temple honorary priest Ramana Deekshitulu took to his Twitter handle to demand that the darshans be temporarily stopped in view of an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases among the priests and devotees alike. In his tweet, Deekshitulu had stated that at least 15 archakas (priests) contracted the deadly Covid-19 infection.

“Out 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 Tirumala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala,” he had tweeted.

Despite such demands, the TTD is yet to decide on temporary suspension of darshans. Questions are being raised over the TTD’s reluctance to temporarily halt ‘darshans’ to contain the spread of the virus among devotees and also archakas. The Opposition parties criticised that the TTD was more worried about filling its coffers and showing little or no concern for the devotees and archakas. They questioned the logic of reimposing the complete lockdown in Tirupati, while allowing darshans to devotees. Such lopsided policy will be counter-productive, they opined.

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