Tirupathi, August 22 (The New Indian Express): A major security lapse occurred during the just concluded visit of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Tirumala Tirupathi shrine. On Sunday he was forced to wait for 12 minutes for his car after a darshan at the shrine of Lord Venkateswara atop the Tirumala hill, giving jitters to the staff of the Tiruumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), especially the security personnel.
Apparently, the driver too had also gone into the temple to worship and did not make it back to the car on time.
At 3 am, the president along with his wife Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari Sirisena, son Daham Tharaka and other family members attended the Suprabhata Seva. When they came out of the sanctum sanctorum, the driver of their car was not on his seat.
Sirisena and his wife waited for about 12 minutes inside the car as his security stood guard around it. TTD staffers scurried around trying to locate the driver. The driver coolly returned from his own darshan of the deity to drive Sirisena at top speed to the guest house.
It is learnt that the driver and other members of Sirisena’s retinue had sought permission from the temple authorities for a darshan of the deity. They were reportedly permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum despite the visit of the VVIP. Tirupati’s Urban Superintendent of Police Jayalashmi is learnt to have questioned the temple authorities for giving permission to drivers and other staff during the VVIP visit. An inquiry has been ordered into the security lapse.
At around 6.30 am, during the VIP break time, Sirisena and his family returned to the temple to pay obeisance to the presiding deity. He spent about six minutes inside the sanctum sanctorum and TTD authorities presented him silk garment and the pandits administered Vedaaseervachanam to the family.
The minister in waiting, Andhra Pradesh’s Forest Minister Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy presented the president a replica of the Ananda Nilayam (the dome of the garbhalayam of the temple) on behalf of the Andhra Pradesh government.
Later, Sirisena and his family members left for Bengaluru by road to fly back to Sri Lanka, avoiding Chennai where pro-Eelam Tamil groups could stage demonstrations against him.