Shirdi temple head booked for alleged molestation, absconds

The Shirdi Police have booked the head of the Saibaba Temple run by Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) for alleged molestation on a complaint filed by a devotee, an official said on Friday.

The complaint has been lodged against Rajendra Jagtap, in-charge of the world-renowned temple complex housing the Samadhi of Saibaba, by Suman R. Wabale of a nearby Rahate village, informed Shirdi Police Station officer B.F. Maghade.

Since the complaint, the accused Jagtap is absconding from the small pilgrimage town with a population of around 35,000. A police team is looking out for him, he said.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the SSST declined to comment, saying the police are investigating the case.

According to the victim’s complaint, she had gone to the Saibaba temple along with some friends late on Thursday night as part of a Saibaba palanquin procession and was praying inside the temple.

Around 8.30 pm, she claimed that Jagtap reportedly came very close to her, then caught her in an objectionable manner, abused and pushed her out of the temple premises. He also threatened her never to be seen in the temple premises again, said Maghade.

The complainant said even in the past, Jagtap had allegedly acted in a similar fashion with other women and demanded his ouster from the responsible position he occupies in the SSST management.

A police team led by Vandana Sonune is investigating the matter even as Jagtap has fled from Shirdi since last night.

Over 10 million devotees from all over the world and top dignitaries including President, Vice-President and Prime Minister visited Shirdi last year as part of the grand centenary celebrations of Saibaba’s Samadhi which concluded in October.