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Shirdi Saibaba's birthplace row rests for now

Shirdi Saibabas birthplace row rests for now

Mumbai: The weeklong fracas over the birthplace of the mystical saint Saibaba of Shirdi appeared to have been resolved for the present, officials said here on Monday.

The indications came after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray convened a meeting which was attended by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Shirdi Shiv Sena MP Sadashiv Lokhande, Shirdi Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust Chief Executive Deepak Muglikar and representatives of

villagers.

Amid speculation that Thackeray had reportedly withdrawn his remarks of Pathri in Parbhani being the birthplace of the 19th century saint Saibaba, Vikhe-Patil announced that the controversy was resolved amicably and the agitation by Shirdi townsfolk has been called off.

Lokhande also claimed that the CM has retracted his statement and approval was granted to the Rs 100-crore development plan of Pathri, to which the Shirdi people had no objections.

The fast-paced developments came a day after the 37,000-population Shirdi town and two dozen adjoining villages observed a 24-hour long shutdown on Sunday along with a counter-bandh by the people of Pathri.

Sri Sai Janmasthan Trust, Pathri, Trustee Sanjay Bhusari reiterated that the village (Pathri) was the birthplace and nobody could change this reality even as a fresh emerged came from Aurangabad that Saibaba first manifested there.

Thackeray said that Pathri would be developed as a pilgrimage centre so there should be no dispute over the birthplace.

Nationalist Congress Party MLC from Pathri and Sri Saibaba Janmasthan Action Committee (SSJAC) President Durrani Abdullah Khan maintained that there are 29 historical evidences and record which corroborates the claim that Saibaba was born here (Pathri).

Khan contended that the objections from Shirdi people was because it would reduce the importance of that town and have economic ramifications on the local economy.

Incidentally, Shirdi ranks among the top three temple trusts in the country in terms of revenues and donations from devotees.

Khan said that religious tourism has contributed immensely to Shirdi's development and the town has now got the best of infrastructure, including an airport, railway line, hotels, financial institutions, etc, and once developed, Pathri could become "a strong competitor" to Shirdi.

Kamlakar Kote, one of the delegation members, said the Shirdi people have no objections to the Rs 100-crore grant to Pathri, but it should not be accorded the status of Saibaba's birthplace since he (Saibaba) himself never revealed his name, birthplace, religion, etc and is revered by people belonging to all

communities.

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