Shirdi Shutdown To Be Called Off, Meeting On Saibaba Birthplace On Monday

Millions of Saibaba devotees from all across the world visit the Shirdi temple every year.

Uddhav Thackeray will convene a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue (File)

Mumbai:

The indefinite shutdown in Shirdi called against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's decision to develop Pathri town of Parbhani district as Saibaba's birthplace will be called off after midnight, Shiv Sena MP Sadashiv Lokhande announced today after holding a meeting with the locals.

Mr Thackeray will convene a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue, he added. Mr Lokhande, the representatives from Shirdi and Pathri, BJP MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and the officials of the temple trust will attend the meet, news agency PTI reported.

Millions of Saibaba devotees from all across the world visit the Shirdi temple every year. Mr Thackeray recently announced that the state government would release Rs 100 crore for the development of Pathri- over 250 kilometer from Shirdi- as a destination for religious tourism, triggering a row.

Mr Thackeray's ally, NCP MLA Durrani Abdullah Khan, reacting to the controversy on Saturday, claimed people of Shirdi don't want the flow of devotees to their town to decrease.

"The Chief Minister has agreed to grant Rs 100 crore to Pathri. People of Shirdi don't have an issue with the funds, they just don't want Pathri to be called Saibaba's birthplace," he was quoted by news agency ANI as saying yesterday.

PTI reported that shops, eateries and various other commercial establishments remained shut in the Shirdi temple town on Sunday.

An official of the temple trust said he will ask Mr Thackeray to withdraw his statement over Saibaba's birthplace.

"We have called off the indefinite bandh and Shirdi will be opened as normal after 12 tonight. There is a meeting scheduled with Chief Minister tomorrow at 2 pm, and we will request him to take back his statement about Saibaba's birthplace. We are not seeking an apology from the CM but all we want is that he should withdraw his statement," Kailash Tope of the Sai Baba Sansthan Trust was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.

With inputs from agencies