TIRUMALA: In yet another incident of spreading non-Hindu religious propaganda on the sacred seven hills, an elderly woman was caught indulging in evangelist activities. She was caught and handed over to the vigilance officials by pilgrims.
The woman, though initially tried to pretend that she is mentally unsound, had admitted that she propagated Christianity at several places on the Tirumala hills in the past three days.
The woman admitted to her act after she was shown the video clippings of her activities recorded by the pilgrims as well as by vigilance staff.
Propagation or preaching of religions other than Hinduism at Tirumala is an offence. According to vigilance officials, some pilgrims found the 60-year-old woman, Matha Maria from Arakonam in Tamil Nadu, singing and promoting Christianity among pilgrims near the TTD employees canteen.
The pilgrims reported the matter to TTD officials who in turn informed the vigilance officials. Vigilance staff rushed to the spot and caught the woman.
Sources said initially Maria tried to behave like a mentally unsound person, but later she admitted to taking up evangelist activity.
During questioning, vigilance officials came to know that Maria reached Tirumala three days ago. During these three days, she recced the areas where construction labour and health workers frequent and tried to influence them to convert to Christianity.
Ravi Prakash, a pilgrim from Vijayawada, said the woman approached him initially and sang some hymns. “Thinking she was a beggar seeking alms, I gave her money. But, she did not leave us and started preaching Christianity to my family members,” he said, adding that when he told her to refrain from such acts, she spoke rudely to us.
This prompted Ravi Prakash to inform the TTD canteen workers there. According to sources, the canteen workers tried to send away the woman in a bus to Tirupati after serving her food. Maria, however, rejected the same and reportedly told the workers that she would eat only if they pray and sing along with her.
The canteen workers immediately informed the matter to vigilance officers. “Based on the complaint, we have caught and she too admitted to having propagated her religion,” additional vigilance and security officer Subramanyam said.
Reacting to the incident, deputy EO Chinamgari Ramana said such (evangelist) activities have come down and they are keeping a close watch on their employees also to discourage them from indulging in such deeds.