INDIA. Mumbai: The vexed Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary dispute has flared up once again with Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s recent comments, even as a petition related to the dispute is pending in the Supreme Court (SC).
In view of the violent agitation by activists, the state transport bus services from both sides were temporarily suspended on Tuesday, inconveniencing the commuters.
The dispute arose when Bommai, in one of his recent public meetings, staked claim to over 40 villages in the Sangli and Solapur districts of Maharashtra.
The Karnataka also released water from the Bableshwar dam into Tikondi Lake, located in Jat Taluka of Sangli, even without any requisition from the Maharashtra.
The water was released on Wednesday, purportedly to “solve the paucity of water” in the area falling in Maharashtra.
Bommai also said that the Maharashtra ministers should not enter Karnataka due to the rising law and order situation.
Due to this, two Maharashtra Ministers—Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraje Desai—who were scheduled to visit Belgaum on December 3 cancelled their visit.
In turn, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde spoke to Bommai and urged him to desist from escalating the matter, Industries Minister Uday Samant told the media.
“Maharashtra Chief Minister Shri Eknath Shinde had a telephonic discussion with me; we both agreed that there should be peace and that law and order should be maintained in both states. There is a harmonious relationship between the people of both states; however, there is no change in our stand as far as the Karnataka border is concerned.”
“The legal battle will be pursued in the Supreme Court,” Bommai tweeted.
“I’ve spoken with Bommai. He gave a positive response. Our constitution provides everyone the right to live and work in any state. I will take this issue to Union Home Minister Amit Shah. “I request the people of Maharashtra not to react,” Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday.
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday warned Karnataka to bring the situation under control within 48 hours or else he himself will visit the state.
Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal also chided the Shinde-Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government for succumbing to pressure from Karnataka and said that they were prepared to enter Karnataka anytime.
The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (Maharashtra) and Kannada Rakshan Vedike (Karnataka) have been defacing or damaging vehicles from each other’s states for the last few days.
The KRV activists damaged some trucks on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border on Monday.
In turn, the activists of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction sprayed black and orange paint on at least three Karnataka state transport buses in the Swargate area of Pune city. They also wrote “Jai Maharashtra” on these buses.
The Pune City Police Zone II detained seven people in this connection. Besides, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers defaced several Karnataka state transport buses with black ink in Sindhudurg in the Konkan region.
Vijay Devne and Sanjay Pawar, both belonging to Shiv Sena (UBT), were detained by Maharashtra Police when they tried to enter Karnataka from Kognoli in Kolhapur.
In another development on Tuesday, the MES members were taken into custody by the Karnataka police when they attempted to submit a memorandum to the Belgaum District Collector condemning a ban on Maharashtra ministers.
The Belgaum Social Network (BSN) highlighted the issue and also posted a video on social media showing police action.
While Maharashtra stakes claim to over 700 villages in Karnataka, 40 villages in Sangli and 10 villages in Solapur have expressed a desire to get merged with Karnataka. Besides, 55 villages in Nashik have expressed a desire to get merged with Gujarat.
Incidentally, Karnataka and Gujarat are BJP-ruled states, while Maharashtra has recently come into the BJP fold following a rebellion led by Eknath Shinde (formerly of the Shiv Sena).
A demand to merge Belgaum, Karwar, Nippani, Bhalki, and other areas (now in Karnataka) into Maharashtra has been pending for years.
After 1947, the Belgaum district of the former Bombay Presidency became a part of Bombay State. In 1956, the State Reorganisation Act merged Belgaum into the Mysore state. Thus, Belgaum, with its majority Marathi-speaking population, was merged with Kannada-majority Karnataka.
In 1987, the Meher Chand Commission, appointed by the Union Government, recommended the exchange of several villages between the two states but rejected Maharashtra’s claim on Belgaum city.
The complaint from Maharashtra’s side is that no geographical contiguity was looked into while merging the villages.
Karnataka also does not give the required benefits to Marathi-medium schools.
As per Article 350-A of the Constitution, it is mandatory for the states to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minorities.
The attempts are being made to close down Marathi-medium schools, MES founding president Kiran Thakur alleges.
Compared to this, the Maharashtra government gives incentives to all linguistic minority schools, and there are over 1000 Kannada-medium schools in the state. They are given the required incentives from time to time.
The petition related to the border row filed by the Maharashtra government was listed before the bench headed by Justice K. M. Joseph in the SC on November 30. But it could not come up for hearing.