Bengaluru: Pro-Kannada groups on Monday launched protests and burnt the effigies of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in Belagavi and Bengaluru. Members of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike took an effigy of Thackeray on a deathbed and paraded it across Belagavi shouting, “We will fight till the end.”
The groups were upset at the alleged statement made by Thackeray that his government is “working towards” incorporating Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka, into Maharashtra.
The statement also drew the ire of his Karnataka counterpart BS Yediyurappa and other leaders who accused him of “planting the seeds of hatred” among people living in the border areas.
The Maharashtra CMO had tweeted on Sunday saying, “Bringing back all the Marathi-speaking and culturally Maharashtrian areas that have been occupied by Karnataka back into Maharashtra is the only tribute to those who have attained martyrdom in the border dispute fight. We are united and committed to this cause. We bow down to the martyrs with this promise."
The border dispute between the two states over Belagavi district which has been simmering over two decades is not new, reappearing every few years.
Adding to the controversy, Maharashtra Minister for Urban Development and Public Works, Eknath Shinde, Monday reportedly said that Marathi-speaking regions were “unjustly snatched from Maharashtra” in 1956 when states were reorganised based on languages in India.
“In 1956, several Marathi-majority regions were snatched away unjustly from Maharashtra and ever since the fight has been going on to include them into our state. Every year on January 17, we celebrate Martyrs Day to commemorate those who fought for this cause and died. We will continue to fight for it,” Shinde said.