Mild tension gripped following the arrival of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Tirumala on Tuesday even as Tamil groups led by MDMK in Tamil Nadu tried to sneak into downhill Tirupati to raise their voice against the dignitary’s visit.
The police arrested several protesters in Tirupati and other parts of Chittoor district for leading anti-Rajapaksa protests and holding placards and shouting slogans. At Taduku checkpost near Nagari on the borders of AP and Tamil Nadu, police took seven persons into custody and three others in Nagari. Police said strict vigil and checkpost surveillance would continue till Wednesday afternoon when Rajapaksa’s departure has been scheduled.
Meanwhile, after landing at Renigunta Airport, Rajapaksa reached the Sri Venkateswara University (SVU) Stadium in a helicopter and proceeded to Tirumala by road.
He will have darshan of Lord Venkateswara in the early hours of Wednesday. District Collector Siddarth Jain and Tirupati Urban SP Gopinath Reddy accorded a warm welcome to him at the airport.
In view of the threats from some Tamil Nadu-based groups to obstruct the visit of the Lankan President, police threw a thick security blanket at Renigunta Airport as well as the road to Tirumala. Apart from Tirupati and Tirumala, police also arranged tight security in the district borders to prevent protesters from Tamil Nadu arriving in the temple town and made a number of arrests in various parts of the district.
In Tirupati, apart from lifting away 30 persons near APSRTC bus station when they were raising slogans against the Lankan President with holding placards and black flags, police also took several other protestors into preventive custody and shifted them to police stations. The TTD vigilance department seized five motorcycles belonged to Tamilnadu registration at Alipiri checkpoint.
Rajpaksa who arrived at Sri Krishna Guest House was received by Minister Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy and Sreenivasa of TTD. (The Hindu)