A protest by a pro-Kannada outfit near Karnataka’s Belagavi turned violent on Tuesday after some of its members allegedly threw stones at vehicles with Maharashtra registration numbers, The Hindu reported.
The members of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike were protesting at Hire Bagewadi against the Belagavi Police for denying them entry into the city to stage a protest against the Maharashtra government.
According to the police, 400 members of the outfit were detained.
Tensions are high in Belagavi because of the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The dispute dates back to the period between the 1950s and 1960s when the states were formed. Maharashtra claims that 865 villages on the border should have been merged with it, while Karnataka claims that the demarcation that was carried out on linguistic lines in 1956 is final.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition by the Maharashtra government challenging some provisions of the State Reorganisation Act, 1956, and demanding that 865 villages in the border areas be merged with it.
On Tuesday, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike president TA Narayana Gowda alleged that some members of his outfit were assaulted by the police.
“I wonder if we are living in Karnataka or some other state,” he said, according to The Hindu. “Why should the police use force against pro-Kannada activists? They have violated our fundamental right to peaceful protest in Belagavi city. This is unacceptable.”
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has expressed his displeasure over the targeting of vehicles from his state with Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, reported The Indian Express.
“We are extremely disappointed with the developments at Belagavi and such incidents at Hirebagwadi near Belagavi are not acceptable,” Fadnavis told the Karnataka chief minister, according to a statement from his office.
The Maharashtra deputy chief minister added that Bommai assured him of strict action against those responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile, political leaders in Maharashtra said that the Centre should intervene at the earliest.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said that MPs from Maharashtra should meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
“Despite CM [Eknath] Shinde’s talk with Karnataka CM, he has not shown any softness on the [Belagavi] issue,” Pawar said, according to ANI. “One must not test our [Maharashtra’s] patience and this should not go in the wrong direction.”
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Udayanraje Bhosale said that the Centre should speak with all political leaders from Maharashtra and Karnataka, reported The Indian Express.
“Today, just making statements and counter statements by Maharashtra and Karnataka leaders is not going to solve the vexed problem,” Bhosale said. “It has to address by taking all leaders into confidence. Dialogue is must.”
Maharashtra ministers cancel Belagavi visit
Meanwhile, Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai on Tuesday cancelled their visit to Belagavi scheduled for Tuesday.
They were slated to meet activists from the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, an organisation that has been seeking the merger of about 800 villages with Maharashtra.
“We both decided to postpone our Belgavi visit today to avoid any untoward incident,” Desai said, according to The Indian Express. “The stone pelting on the Maharashtra vehicles is condemnable…that too at a time when we are showing patience.”
On Monday, Bommai had asked his Maharashtra counterpart Eknath Shinde not to send his cabinet colleagues to the border district of Belagavi.
Bommai had said that their visit could disturb law and order in the area.