Poor crowd management

Tirupati-Tirumala Devasthanam authorities are doing a lot to improve infrastructural facilities. However, it has failed in managing the queue for Balaji darshan.

With an awe for such a wonderful administration, I entered the queue paying Rs 300 for special darshan. The electronic board announced that the expected wait-time was three hours. I kept moving in the queue with great hopes up to a point when we were all let into a cell, where we could sit.

But I was shocked how bad the system was from this point onwards. About 200-250 devotees entered this cell, which seemed like a mini-stadium, where we could sit anywhere. Thus after a wait of about 20 minutes, when the gate was to be opened, all the 250 people rushed to the single entry point and it was a free for all situation.  The fittest survived and strong men, youngsters and some strong women had their way and went well ahead of us.  

Mad rush

Thereafter, we had to stand for nearly four and a half hours, putting up with the stronger people pushing us aside and moving ahead. There was nobody to monitor or guide. The space was not meant for a single queue. So, we had no way to prevent people squeezing through and going forward.

Though there were bathrooms along the queue route, we could not venture to use them, because the space was jam-packed and we could not get out of our place.

We were shocked to hear from free darshan devotees and devotees who came walking
up the hill that they were in the queue for nearly 3 to 4 hours before us. There were many infants and children in the queues, who were crying out of hunger, fear and thirst. Due to security reasons, our water bottles too were snatched away before the main entrance.

Many adults were giddy and tired of walking, standing and hunger. Nobody could even go out of the queue, as it was like a jail and there were no security persons around to help such people in distress. What if somebody swoons of low sugar or heart attack?
At the entrance, even that barricade which could hold 4 to 5 persons from left to right vanished and there ended all order. People rushed inside, pushing the weaker ones aside, though they kept chanting ‘Govinda’. Nobody bothered to monitor or check the crowd.  

My feet were almost above the ground and I was being jostled in a direction without my effort. I was in tears that after a wait of five hours in my case and about 10-12 hours in the case of so many devotees, all that we got was a momentary glance of just the face of Lord Balaji. We were pushed out in no time.

What sort of crowd management is this? Despite so many mishaps happening all around the country, how can the TTD authorities be so lax in this aspect? Even a minor incident like a child or senior citizen falling off could cause a major stampede inside the temple premises. Should there not be some arrangement for people in the queue to get out mid-way, if they are in trouble?

Should there not be security persons along the stretch of the queue to handle any unforeseen eventuality? As I was edged out of the temple, I prayed, “Lord forgive me. I don’t think I can ever visit your holy temple if things are this way. I would rather sit at home and chant your name peacefully.”

The authorities should give a serious thought to this aspect and see that barricades for queues are such that they can accommodate only one person at a time all along the route until every person has a darshan of the Lord.  After all, in front of God all the devotees are equal, whether they stands in the free darshan queue or pay hefty sums for some Seva!

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