Melee at SSD token counter

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Tirupati, April 12: A dozen pilgrims, mostly women and children, were injured in the melee at the SSD token issuance counter located at Sri Govindaraja Swamy Choultries here on Tuesday.

Issuance of Time Slotted Sarva Darsan (SSD) tokens resumed at 6am at the counters of three locations in the city today after being suspended for two days.

The TTD canceled the issuance of the tokens on Sunday and Monday.

However, pilgrims who arrived here unaware of the cancellation in the past two days, began flocking to token counters since midnight.

The issuance of the tokens, which began at 6 a.m., went smoothly for an hour. Later, with the restless crowd of advancing pilgrims, the stampede occurred at the trading post of Govindarajswamy Choultry.

The few security personnel on duty failed to control the stampede which lasted for thirty minutes, leading to a near stampede situation resulting in many women, children suffocated and injured.

A few Good Samaritans and security personnel rescued the women and children caught in the fray, panicking and screaming for help.

Crying children, crying women added to the tense situation.

Meanwhile, the police also reached the place and brought the situation under control after some time.

A dozen women and children were injured in the melee while many passed out from suffocation. One of them was admitted to hospital.

The incident hit the spotlight with the electronic media giving live coverage of the crowds of pilgrims spiraling out of control and the suffering of pilgrims waiting since last night in queues at Govindarajaswamy Choultry, Bhudevi Compound and Bhudevi Compound of Srinivasan where a large number of people went for the tokens. .

Senior TTD and City Police officials inspected the three places where SSD meters operate one after another after adverse media reports highlighting the plight of pilgrims, the lack of facilities and preparedness for from the management of the TTD, leaving the pilgrims budding.

Opposition party leaders including the TDP, BJP and JSP strongly condemned the TTD and accused it of failing miserably to anticipate the crowd, which led to the unsavory incident.

The TTD hastily announced allowing tokenless pilgrims to Tirumala for darshan and also stopped issuing SSD tokens.

TTD Additional EO Dharma Reddy, Chittoor SP Rishanth Reddy, Tirupati Additional SP Supraja and Arifullah inspected queues, Tirumala and Tirupati.

TTD also announced that it will stop broadcasting Break Darshan from Wednesday to Sunday (five days) to cope with the influx of pilgrims.

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