Prevent Maharashtra ministers’ entry in state: Karnataka intel report amid border dispute

Updated on Dec 05, 2022 05:17 AM IST

The Maharashtra government has appointed Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai as coordinating ministers for the border issue.

The ministers are scheduled to meet pro-Maharashtra groups in Belagavi district on December 6. (Shutterstock)
The ministers are scheduled to meet pro-Maharashtra groups in Belagavi district on December 6. (Shutterstock)
By, Belagavi

Allowing Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai entry into Belagavi amid the ongoing Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute could trigger riots and violence, state intelligence department has warned the police department in a report submitted on Saturday.

The Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue dates back to the 1960s after the states were reorganised on linguistic lines. Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to 80 Marathi-speaking villages that are currently part of Karnataka.

The Maharashtra government has appointed Patil and Desai as coordinating ministers for the border issue. They are scheduled to meet pro-Maharashtra groups in Belagavi district on December 6.

The two ministers were earlier scheduled to visit the district on December 3. However, their visit has been postponed on the request of the Belagavi Ambedkar organisation and both will arrive in Belagavi on December 6, on the death anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.

“On 6th December Mahanav Bharat Ratna, Dr Ambedkarist organisations in Belgaum are urged to come to attend a program on the occasion of Mahaparinirvana day of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Accordingly, the Coordinating Minister @shambhurajdesai and I will travel to Belgaum on December 6 instead of December 6. @CMOMaharashtra,” Patil tweeted on Friday.

Reports of the ministers’ visit triggered protests across the state by pro-Kannada organisations.

On Thursday, pro-Kannada organisations staged a roadblock on the highway in Belagavi. They set fire to tires and shouted slogans against Maharashtra. During a cultural program in Belagavi’s Gogate College recently, a student who danced with the Kannada flag was beaten up by his classmates, creating a tense atmosphere.

Patil, however, has insisted that he would attend the function in the disputed Belagavi district “at any cost”.

Earlier, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai had appealed to the Maharashtra government not to send the ministers. He also wrote to Maharashtra chief secretary on the same.

With the minister defying the CM’s request, pro-Kannada organisations have said that they would not allow the Maharashtra minister in Karnataka. “We accepted his challenge (by Patil) to Karnataka and now will show our power, will see how they enter into the state,” said Deepak Gudaganatti the district president of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (Narayangowda faction) and added that they barge into the ministers meeting with anti-state people and the state government would be held responsible for the after course incidents if permitted in the state.

Amid the tensions, Belagavi district administration and Intelligence Department presented a report before the government and the police department on Saturday, advising a ban on the ministers’ visit to ensure no disturbance in the law and order situation across the state.

The report further warned of protests and riots in Belagavi even if Maharashtra says its ministers would not meet pro-Maharashtra groups and just attend scheduled programmes.

Referring to the secret visit of Nationalist Congress Party president and then Congress leader Sharad Pawar in Belagavi on June 1, 1986, the intelligence department warned the state government to keep a watch on all the entries into the district from Maharashtra from December 4 onwards

In 1986, Shiv Sena, along with other Maharashtra political parties and organisations, launched a protest against the Karnataka government for mandating Kannada in primary schools. Pawar had inaugurated the stir by protesting at Rani Channamma circle despite a ban against his entry.

“He entered the district through road Pune-Bengaluru national highway a day before his scheduled programme and ‘hid’ in one of the pro-Maharashtrian residences on Club road near the circle. Pawar, at the scheduled time, had rushed to the venue with hundreds of his supporters. Maharashtra ministers Patil and Desai are expected to follow the same tactics,” an intelligence official said quoting the report. HT hasn’t seen the report.

Madhyavarti Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) city president Deepak Dalavi said preventing the arrival of Maharashtra leaders to Belagavi itself shows what kind of alleged injustice Marathis in Karnataka are facing. “They are just arriving to listen to our grievances and not to address the meetings for which prohibiting their entry was not necessary and there will be no disturbance from our side,” he said.

Meanwhile, all the factions of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and hundreds of activists from dozens of Kannada organisations in Belagavi have maintained a strict vigil at the state border to prevent the ministers’ entry.

Hinting about officially imposing a ban on Maharashtra ministers’ entry into the state, chief minister Bommai said on Friday: “We follow the same method that previous governments faced such incidents.”

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