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Home / India News / Shirdi observes bandh as controversy over Saibaba’s birthplace roils locals

Shirdi observes bandh as controversy over Saibaba’s birthplace roils locals

The controversy began after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a development fund of Rs 100 crore for Pathri area in Marathwada known to be the birthplace of Saibaba.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2020 10:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Local residents of Shirdi staging a protest during a bandh in the pilgrim town.
Local residents of Shirdi staging a protest during a bandh in the pilgrim town.(Sourced)

The pilgrim town of Shirdi in Maharashtra shut down Sunday after local residents called for a bandh over a controversy related to the birthplace of 19th century saint Saibaba.

The prominent temple in Shirdi that is believed to house the remains of the saint and attracts a number of pilgrims remained open. The institutions like the accommodation provided by the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, that manages the temple, also remained unaffected.

A late night statement by Deepak Mugalikar, Chief executive officer of the Saibaba Trust, Shirdi, read, “On behalf of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, darshan at Shri Saibaba Samadhi Temple, all the aartis and all the religious traditions will continue on Sunday, January 19, 2020 and thereafter and all the facilities of the sansthan such as the Shri Sai Prasadalaya, the bhakt niwas, hospitals etc., will be functioning as always.”

The controversy began after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a development fund of Rs 100 crore for Pathri area in Marathwada known to be the birthplace of Saibaba.

In response, the villagers of Shirdi, led by Shirdi legislator Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called for a meeting on Saturday. A bandh was announced after the meeting although Thackeray had announced that he would be holding talks to defuse the row.

The bandh is bound to affect the devotees as the private entities, which serve the massive number of devotees who come to Shirdi, will remain shut.

The CM has called for a meeting with Shirdi residents and stakeholders in the mantralaya on Monday. A separate meeting has also been called with representatives of Pathri by the CM.