Three pilgrims were seriously after being attacked by a mentally- unsound person on the Alipiri-Tirumala footpath in the early hours of Saturday.
A family comprising 10 members was trekking to Tirumala around 2.30 a.m to have pre-dawn ‘darshan’ of Lord Venkateswara after taking a holy dip in the temple tank when they were suddenly attacked by the maniac named A Sekhar.
The accused was reportedly hiding behind some bushes abutting the footpath near the Narasimha Swamy temple. All of a sudden, he came on to the footpath and indiscriminately attacked the pilgrims with stones and sticks, causing head injuries to three persons and disappeared from the scene even before the pilgrims recovered from their shock.
The injured pilgrims have been identified as Jaya (40), Rohita (25) and Tarun Kumar Kela (38), all natives of Chennai but working in North India.
Later, the remaining family members made the injured also walk up to Tirumala along with them as they could not find any security person until reaching the GNC toll gate on Tirumala. Then, they took the injured at the Aswani Hospital in Tirumala where they were administered first aid and later sent to a hospital in Tirupati.
After learning about the incident, police launched a manhunt for the maniac and managed to nab him around 7.30 a.m. Meanwhile, the incident has exposed the security lapse by the TTD officials concerned. Though the TTD Parakamani Wing Deputy Executive Officer Rama Rao, who was proceeding to Tiruamala on Friday night, informed the security officials that someone had hurled stones on his car at the Elephant Arch on the first Ghat road, which is near the spot where the accused attacked the pilgrims in the early hours of Saturday, the security men made a perfunctory and hence vain search on Friday night.
If only the staff had managed to nab the maniac on Friday night itself, the Saturday incident could have been averted, a TTD official observed. Though, the security staff was supposed to keep a constant vigil on the Ghat roads, that was not happening, he added.
Meanwhile, the police who first maintained that the accused was mentally unsound, however, changed their version by changing the FIR to the effect that the accused was mentally sound and that he had intentionally attacked the pilgrims. But, they had no answer when asked why they had sent the accused to the mental ward at the Ruia Hospital in Tirupati.