Day after Kannada activists attack Shiv Sena worker’s car in Belgavi, bus services between Maharashtra and Karnataka suspended

A day after Kannada outfit Kannada Rakshan Vedike activists allegedly attacked Shiv Sena activist Prakash Shirolkar's car at Belgavi, removed the saffron flag from their vehicle and vandalised it, the state transport services were suspended by Maharashtra and Karnataka on Saturday to avoid any untoward incident.

The trigger was a person pelted stone on the Maharashtra State Road Transport bus at the Kolhapur bus stand. Thereafter some Shiv Sena activists blocked the movement of the Karnataka State Transport buses in Kolhapur. The police have arrested the person responsible for stone pelting.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut alleged that Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, which is attacking the Shiv Sena activists, is sponsored by the BJP. "No one from the BJP is speaking about it. The Shiv Sena can also respond in equal measure, but we don't want to create a rift between the two states. The Centre should intervene," he said.

Raut said the fresh stand-off was an attempt to divert the attention from the sex CD scandal allegedly involving a former Karnataka minister.

He alleged that Marathi-speaking people residing in Karnataka's Belgaum were being victimised, and said an all-party delegation from Maharashtra should visit the city in the neighbouring state to resolve the ongoing stand-off. ‘’If the situation goes out of hand, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra government shouldn't be blamed since the response would not be official, but political," he warned

Raut said that in the last eight days there have been instances of attack on Shiv Sena leaders and the party's office in Belgaum by pro-Kannada outfits. "Belgaum is part of India and the Maharashtra-Karnataka dispute is a language dispute. It shouldn't be stretched too far and this is the responsibility of the Karnataka government too," he said.

The Sena MP squarely blamed the centre for the situation in Belgaum, saying that it can see violence in West Bengal and places where BJP is contesting elections, but "turning a blind eye" to the developments in Belgaum."The Maharashtra government will have to take a firm stand...An all-party delegation should visit Belgaum soon to show unity with the Marathi people suffering the high- handedness there," he said.

Maharashtra and Karnataka are engaged in a long-pending border dispute involving Marathi-speaking Belgaum, Nipani and other districts. Recently, Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders and their counterparts in Karnataka sparred over the disputed area. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently said areas dominated by Marathi-speaking people on the state's border with Karnataka should be declared as a Union Territory till the Supreme Court gives its final verdict on the issue. He also said the Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas will be included in Maharashtra.

Thackeray was retorted by the Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi who said Mumbai should be made part of the state and urged the Centre to declare it a Union Territory until then.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Legislative Council Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe in a letter to Karnataka Director General of Police has asked to instruct Belgavi police to take cognizance of alleged ransacking of Shiv Sena activist Prakash Shirolkar’s vehicle and provide him adequate security cover.

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