Pune: For someone, who lived his entire life as a Peer (Saint) spreading the message of religious harmony, Shirdi Saibaba’s disciples sure seem to have forgotten the very statement that is written across the temple premises, ‘Sabka Malik Ek Hai’.
In a recent case, a priest attached to the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust claimed that he and his family members are facing social boycott after both his sons married girls from other castes.
54-year-old Manohar Pathak, who is working as a priest in the temple of Saibaba in Shirdi from last 25 years, told Sakal Times that his family members are suffering from social boycott after his younger son Rohit married a girl from a backward community in 2013.
Pathak shared that things became worse after his elder son Rajendra married a girl from an other community in 2016. He shared that unable to bear pressure, his elder son allegedly suffered a cardiac arrest barely 3 months after his marriage.
Pathak, who has raised this matter with authorities of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust and to Ahmednagar police, claimed that no one addressed his complaints seriously.
“The day my younger son Rohit got married to a Dalit girl in 2013, things changed for us. Fellow priests stopped talking to me, they started humiliating me daily and even barred me from performing worship. There are 20 priests in the Sansthan, including me, and its been five years since all of them have stopped talking to me.”
Pathak informed Sakal Times that his elder son Rajendra suffered from cardiac arrest and claimed that he (Rajendra) was under tremendous pressure since his marriage to a girl belonging to backward caste in 2016.
Pathak informed that his elder son Rajendra Pathak was also a priest in Shirdi temple and had faced social boycott in the temple before he died of a heart attack in October 2016.
Pathak shared, “I am not blaming anyone for the death of my son, but it is true that he was under huge stress and depression because of the mistreatment meted out to him and all this was due to his decision to marry a girl from another caste.”
Frustrated, Pathak said, “I have approached Rubal Agrawal, Chief Executive officer of Sansthan, twice and have requested her to sort out this issue. But nothing has happened. I am deeply depressed and have no wish to continue my life.”
When Sakal Times contacted Agrawal, an IAS officer and other authorities of Shirdi Trust, everyone seemed to be shying away from their responsibility.
When questioned, Suresh Haware, Chairman of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, said, “I am not the person to talk to about this matter, please talk to Chief Executive Officer Rubal Agrawal) or Dhananjay Nikam (Deputy Collector).”
When Sakal Times contacted Agrawal, she declined to comment on the issue. When questioned, Chandrashekhar Kadam, Vice Chairman of the trust, said, “I am not aware of the matter, but I will find about and will take necessary action.”
Rajendra Jagtap, in-charge of temple department, said, “Priest Pathak is not fit to work in the Sansthan and we are going to conduct an inquiry against him. He is in the habit of complaining about our priest to police, and government authorities. Nobody has boycotted him. His son died of illness and no social boycott was meted out to Pathak or his sons.”
When Sakal Times contacted Ranjan Kumar Sharma, Superintendent of Police (SP), Ahmednagar, he said, “Many times the complaints are not escalated to senior officers, but if this is the case, I will look into this matter.”