Shirdi: A 'bandh' has been called at Shirdi in Maharashtra on Sunday over a controversy related to the birthplace of 19th century saint Saibaba, even as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said he would be holding talks to defuse the row.
Local residents and leaders in Shirdi are demanding that Thackeray withdraw his official statement where he described Pathri in Parbhani district as Saibaba's birthplace. It was at Shirdi in Ahmednagar district where Saibaba, whose devotees cut across religious lines, spent much of his life.
Bandh would be observed in surrounding villages too, sources in Shirdi said. But the grand Saibaba temple which is visited by lakhs of devotees every year would remain open, said Deepak Mugalikar, CEO of Shree Saibaba Sansthan Trust.
Former Maharashtra minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who is the local BJP MLA, said he supported the bandh call.
The controversy began after chief minister Thackeray announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for development of facilities at "Sai janmasthan" (birthplace) at Pathri. Local residents and leaders in Shirdi took exception to the chief minister's announcement, saying the birthplace of the famed saint was not known, and Pathri can not make a claim to being his birthplace.
Thackeray will hold talks to resolve the controversy on Monday, his office said in a late evening statement. He would hold a meeting with all the concerned parties at the state secretariat in Mumbai, an official statement said.
Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said he supported the call for shut-down given by the local people. "The chief minister should withdraw his statement that Pathri was Saibaba's birthplace," he demanded.
"Pathri only has one of several Sai temples in the country. All Sai devotees are feeling hurt," the former state minister said.
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Updated Date: Jan 19, 2020 00:00:42 IST