TTD employee succumbs to Covid-19, Subba Reddy silent on suspension of ‘darshans’


Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) employee succumbed to Covid-19 on Friday.

The TTD employee, Veeraswamy, was admitted to Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) hospital in Tirupati a week ago.

He succumbed on Friday while battling with the deadly infection. The family members of the deceased TTD employee alleged that the SVIMS had failed to give proper treatment to Veeraswamy. A day before Veeraswamy succumbed to Covid-19, he sent text messages to his son about lack of facilities and doctors at the SVIMS hospital.

Recently, former TTD chief priest Srinivasa Murthy Deekshitulu had died due to Covid-19 while taking treatment at SVIMS.

Several TTD employees and archakas (assistant priests) were tested positive for Covid-19. More than 150 TTD employees were tested positive for the virus after temple darshans were re-opened after the coronavirus imposed lockdown was lifted. At least 15 archakas working at Tirumala temple tested positive for COVID-19 and were shifted to Tirupati where they were admitted to various hospitals. Honorary chief priest and agama advisor Ramana Dikshitulu had appealed to the TTD to close the shrine to devotees for a few weeks to protect the priests. TTD Pedda Jeeyar Swamy Sri Satagopa Ramanuja Pedda Jeeyangar had recently tested positive for Covid-19 and was shifted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai.

In a tweet, Deekshitulu had stated that at least 15 archakas (assistant 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. One can expect a major disaster in Tirumala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala,” he had tweeted.

The TTD Staff and Workers United Front had also written to the TTD Executive Officer requesting that darshan at the temple be temporarily suspended. Apart from archakas, at least 140 TTD employees are known to have tested positive for Covid-19.

However, TTD Trust Board chairman Y V Subba Reddy on July 16 ruled out suspension of darshans while reacting to Deekshitulu’s tweet. While the Andhra Pradesh government had reimposed complete lockdown till August 15 in Tirupati, the TTD is yet to temporarily suspend Sri Vari ‘darshans’. Tirumala was exempted from complete lockdown despite the fact that several TTD employees, priests and devotees contracted the virus.

The TTD’s adamant stand in not suspending ‘darshans’ came under sharp criticism, many commented that the TTD Trust Board was more interested in filling its coffers showing little or no concern to the devotees, priests or the TTD employees. TTD Trust Board chairman remains silent on the temporary suspension of ‘darshans’ despite demand from various quarters.

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