Shirdi bandh called off after meeting Uddhav Thackeray

Mr Thackeray said that the funds of Rs 100 crore have been allotted for the development of Pathri, but only as a religious site.

Mumbai: The dispute over the birthplace of Sai Baba has finally been resolved as chief minister Uddhav Thackeray withdrew his statement that Pathri in Marathwada was the birthplace of the revered spiritual figure. He also made it clear that Pathri would be developed only as a religious site and not as the birthplace of Sai Baba.

Following the assurance from Mr Thackeray in a meeting held on Monday to resolve the dispute, Shirdi residents have decided not to continue their agitation.

Mr Thackeray said that the funds of '100 crore have been allotted for the development of Pathri, but only as a religious site. “Why should there be a dispute over the birthplace?” he asked.

Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) representative and Shiv Sena leader Kamlakar Kothe said, “Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has accepted our demands. Residents of Shirdi are satisfied with what he said. He has assured us that no new dispute will be created and we are ending the matter.”

Along with the CM, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, environment minister Aaditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena MP Sadashiv Lokhande, senior BJP MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, SSST chief executive officer Deepak Muglikar and delegations of Shirdi and Pathri residents attended the meeting.

Mr Vikhe-Patil said that the outcome of the meeting with the chief minister was satisfactory and hence Shirdi locals had decided to call off the agitation. “The bandh was observed in Shirdi considering the emotions of Sai devotees. The state government had never taken a stand about the birthplace earlier. It should remain the same,” he said.

Mr Lokhande said, “The CM asked the Shirdi temple representatives if they had an issue with the allocation of '100 crore for the development of Pathri to which they said their opposition was only to the declaration of Pathri as Sai Baba’s birthplace and not for any development initiative.”

A row had erupted after the chief minister announced a grant of '100 crore for the development of facilities at ‘Sai janmasthan’ at Pathri, nearly 273 km away from Shirdi in Ahmednagar district. To protest this, Shirdi had observed a bandh on Sunday, with shops and businesses in a majority of the villages remaining shut.

Those in Shirdi had also called for an indefinite bandh in the temple town from Sunday midnight but it was called off by evening on the assurance of a meeting with Mr Thackeray.

Next Story