In a bid to tackle black-marketing of tickets meant for darshan and seva and even sale of ladoos, Tirupati-Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD), that manages the Lord Venkateswara shrine in Chitoor, Andhra Pradesh, has now decided to set up an in-house police station.
A first-of-its-kind move by any temple in the country, the police station would start functioning soon, TTD chairman Karunakar Reddy told HT.
“We will be able to book cases and arrest the culprits that we were not able to do earlier. This would have a demoralising effect on the black-marketers,” said a TTD official.
On an average, 45,000-50,000 pilgrims visit the hill-top shrine on a normal day (And nearly a lakh on festivals and holidays). With queues for darshan stretching for hours, black-marketing darshan and seva tickets has become a lucrative business. It results in the pilgrims suffering, whereas those with deep pockets buy tickets in the black-market for an easy darshan.
The police station would be under the control of the Vigilance and Security wing of the TTD (headed by an SP rank police officer) and will be an addition to a police post manned by the police department.
The Endowments act, which governs administration of temples, prohibits consumption of meat and liquor and smoking or chewing of tobacco in the pilgrim town, but there is no provision to tackle the menace of black-marketing.
Though the TTD had been asking for a such a police station for some time, the government was not entirely convinced.
Finally, TTD chief Vigilance Officer P Hari Kumar managed to convince the government citing the example of an “anti-power theft squad” operated by power utilities, which has the powers of regular police stations.