Shirdi shut over Sai’s birthplace row : The Tribune India

Shirdi, January 19

Shops and eateries were shut and vehicles remained off roads in Maharashtra’s Shirdi temple town today, while an MP of the ruling Shiv Sena also extended support to the bandh called over a controversy on the birthplace of 19th century saint Sai Baba.

The controversy erupted after CM and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for development of facilities at “Sai janmasthan” (birthplace) at Pathri in Parbhani district.

Local residents and leaders in Shirdi are demanding that Thackeray should withdraw his official statement where he described Pathri as Sai’s birthplace. The CM has convened a meeting over the issue at the state secretariat in Mumbai tomorrow.

The bandh began here at midnight, but the Sai Baba temple remained open with devotees being allowed to offer prayers, officials of the temple trust and Ahmednagar district administration said.

The “prasadalaya” and the temple kitchen were also open to ensure devotees were not inconvenienced, they said.

Long queues of devotees were seen in front of the “prasadalaya”, breakfast centre and “laddoo” sale centres of the temple.

Shiv Sena’s Lok Sabha member from Shirdi, Sadashiv Lokhande, on Sunday extended his support to the bandh. “I am a Sai devotee first and an MP later. I support this protest. Sai Baba came to Shirdi when he was 16,” he said. — PTI

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