Trouble is in store for pilgrims visiting the hill shrine of Tirumala this weekend.
Pilgrims, scheduled to arrive at Tirumala on September 14 and 15, should be prepared to face the heat of the Samaikyandhra agitation or postpone their visit as the Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) has decided not to allow operation of RTC buses on the Tirumala ghat roads on the two days.
When the APSRTC staff also joined the indefinite strike of APNGOs on August 12, bus services to Tirumala were also stopped. However, following an appeal from the government and the TTD, the RTC decided to operate 100-odd buses belonging to the Tirumala depot to transport pilgrims from Tirupati to Tirumala.
These buses being operated from the Balaji link bus station at Alipiri to Tirumala instead from the Tirupati bus station.
However, the EJAC leaders from various employees departments including RTC unions and non-political organisations engaged in the agitation, who met at the RDO’s office here on Tuesday, took serious note of the statement of Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde that the note on the Telangana formation would be sent to the cabinet soon, at a time when the ‘Save Andhra Pradesh’ meeting being held in Hyderabad, decided to intensify the ongoing stir as they understood that the Centre was getting false reports on the agitation.
“The statement of the Union home minister when the APNGOs were holding a successful meeting in Hyderabad was nothing but provoking the agitators,’’ the EJAC leaders observed and drafted an action plan for intensifying the agitation.
They decided not to operate RTC buses on the Tirumala ghat roads on both the days and also appealed to the private travel operators to cooperate by suspending their services too.
“We appeal to the people to postpone their visit on the two days. This is like extending your cooperation to the agitation,’’ the JAC leaders said.
The meeting also called upon denizens of Tirupati to offer ‘Samaikyandhra Harati’ to Lord Venkateswara on Saturday evening by switching off lights for one hour between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“A decision whether to stop power supply for that one hour or the people themselves voluntarily suspending of usage of power will be finalised soon,’’ Tirupati RDO Y Ramachandra Reddy, who is also convener of EJAC’s Tirupati division, told Express.
Stating that the relay hunger strikes would be continued by employees organisations near APSRTC bus station, he said dharnas would be organised in front of all Central government offices on September 13.
Meanwhile, on learning about the decision of suspending RTC services to and from Tirumala for two days, TTD officers association members rushed to the RDO’s office and appealed to EJAC leaders to withdraw the decision in the interest of pilgrims.
It is said that the efforts of the TTD employees to convince the EJAC leaders to change their decision failed. The TTD officers said that they too were for Samaikyandhra and were actively taking part in the agitation. But JAC leaders made it clear that they would not reverse their decision.
The TTD is likely to meet the local administration to plan alternative arrangements to transport pilgrims on the two days.