Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Update on Tirupati Incident

Evangelists' case: TTD opens rule book

Special Correspondent

`Even propagation of cult of other Hindu gods is prohibited here'  

  • Some had preached Christianity to pilgrims in a bus returning from temple

  • TTD tightens vigil to prevent recurrence of incident

  • Criminal action will be taken in future, warn officials

TIRUPATI: The TTD management, embarrassed over activities of Christian evangelists here on Sunday, went into a damage control mode.

At a hurriedly convened press conference here on Monday, the TTD's Executive Officer, A.P.V.N. Sarma listed the preventive measures the TTD had put in place to prevent the recurrence of the incident.

Mr. Sarma sought to describe the controversy as a stray incident and handiwork of some `misguided persons'.

He said those who distributed Christian literature and preached Christianity among the pilgrims on board an APSRTC to Tirumala after darshan, perhaps had no idea about its legal implications.

To clarify the rule position vis-a-vis the non-Hindu religious propagation programmes on Tirumala hills, the Executive Officer quoted two sections from the TTD Act which prevented any gospel programmes by non-hindu organisations on the hills.

He said Rule 196 declared the entire 10 and one-third sq miles area around the Tirumala temple as the exclusive property of the TTD.

He also went on the explain as how under the rule 197 of the TTD Act entire Tirumala was declared as a place of pilgrimage and how it made it mandatory for its population to adhere to Hindu norms and respect the sentiments of the Hindu religion.

No to Ganesha too

He pointed out that the rule was so sensitive that barring the spread of Venkateswara cult, it prohibited the propagation of the cult of even the other Hindu gods in Tirumala.

He recalled how even the procession of Ganesha was prevented once.

Sarma said that the TTD had decided to tighten its vigilance wing to keep an eye on the activities of the evangelists and to work in coordination with the Intelligence wing to get inputs in advance on such questionable activities.

"In future we will not hesitate to take criminal action against the violators of the rule," Sarma said. Chief Vigilance and Security Officer (CVSO), Balakrishna said that that his department had noted the names and addresses of the evangelists and were watching their movements closely.

Pastor roughed up

A pastor who was reportedly preaching gospel to the students in the SVU's E-Block was today roughed up by the ABVP cadres and chased out of the campus.

The Vice-Chancellor, S. Jayarama Reddy admitted the incident and said all possible steps would be taken against the misuse of the campus for religious propagation of any religious faith.