Shirdi locals call for shutdown over Sai baba birthplace row, temple remains open
A former trustee of Shirdi Sai Sansthan, Kailasbapu Kote, said locals and villagers from the neighbouring areas are upset with chief minister Thackeray for referring to Pathri as the birthplace of Sai Baba.Updated: Jan 19, 2020 08:28 IST
A day after residents of Maharashtra’s Shirdi town called for an indefinite shut down from Sunday after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray called Pathri in Parbhani as the birthplace of the 19th-century saint Sai Baba and said he will allot Rs 100 crore for its development, the government stepped in to resolve the imbroglio.
Taking note of the proposed bandh by Shirdi residents, chief minister has called meeting of locals and temple trustees in the coming week, said deputy speaker of state legislative council. “The chief minister has assured to meet locals of Shirdi and listen to what they want to say. He will also interact with Pathri residents,” said Sena leader Neelam Gorhe, who met Thackeray and apprised him about the opposition.
The locals from Shirdi however have been adamant on bandh while demanding Thackeray to retract remarks about Pathri being Saibaba’s birth place.
B Wakchaure of Saibaba Sansthan Trust said a meeting of villagers was held on Saturday evening where it was decided that market places and surrounding villages will be shut as part of the Bandh from Sunday onwards, however, the Sai Baba temple which is visited by lakhs of devotees and all its units comprising Sai Prasadalaya, Sai Hospital, Sai Bhaktaniwas and medical shops have been kept outside the purview of the shutdown.
A former trustee of Shirdi Sai Sansthan, Kailasbapu Kote, said locals and villagers from the neighbouring areas are upset with chief minister Thackeray for referring to Pathri as the birthplace of Sai Baba. “There is no bonafide proof available to prove the birthplace. Sai Baba himself never shared any information about his birthplace or religion during his stay in Shirdi,” Kote said.
“We will observe an indefinite bandh to send a strong message to the government and the chief minister, as it has hurt our sentiments. The entire bandh would be peaceful and aimed at conveying our resentment to the state,” he said.
Shirdi BJP MLA and former leader of opposition Radha Krishna Vikhe -Patil while declaring his support to indefinite bandh demanded that Thackeray should withdraw his remarks. “I support the people’s call for shutdown and CM should withdraw his statement. All Sai devotees have been hurt by this statement ,” he said.
The call for the shutdown in the temple town of Shirdi has been backed by the residents of 25 villages.
Private buses will run but public transport vehicles will be off the road, which might create commuting issues for tourists and devotees visiting Shirdi, said local officials
Ashok Chavan has welcomed Thackeray’s announcement
“A large number of Sai devouts visit Pathri and the decision to provide funds for the development of Pathri temple is aimed at the development of the area and a welcome step. Sai Bhakts cannot be kept away from development over the issue of the place of birth of Sai Baba,” Chavan, a former chief minister, tweeted in Marathi.