Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of Maharashtra, on Friday, paid tributes to fallen members of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti at the Hutatma Chowk in South Mumbai.
The square hosts the memory of the 105 peaceful demonstrators who lost their lives in police fire in 1956. A Flora Fountain exists in the square as a tribute to the fallen members.
A statue of a "Martyr with a Flame" stands next to Flora Fountain.
The chief minister was on this day seen commemorating those who sacrificed their lives for a united Maharashtra state.
The 'Samyukta Maharashtra Movement' (Marathi: Sanyukta Maharashtra Chalaval), commonly known as the Samiti, was an organisation in India that advocated for a separate Marathi-speaking state in Western India from 1956 to 1960.
The Samiti demanded the creation of a new state from Marathi-speaking areas of the State of Bombay, a Marathi state, with the city of Bombay as its capital. The Samiti achieved its goal when the state of Maharashtra was created on 1 May 1960. Members continued to advocate for the inclusion of Marathi-speaking areas in northern Karnataka such as Belgaum, Karwar, Dharwad and Bidar into Maharashtra.
The chief minister paying tributes to the martyrs of a united Maharashtra movement might seem as a controversial move, depending on the perspective one has on the situation.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, earlier in the week, triggered the longstanding border row between Maharashtra and Karnataka by evoking Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray's "dream" of "incorporating Belgaum (Belagavi), Karwar, and Nipani" areas of the neighbouring state into a united Maharashtra.
Both states have been at loggerheads for decades over the border issues.
Maharashtra claims the border district of Belagavi was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, but is currently a district of Karnataka, on linguistic grounds.
On its part as an assertion that Belagavi is an integral part of the state, Karnataka has built the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the state legislature building in Bengaluru, where legislature session is held once a year.
(All photos by Bhushan Koyande for the Free Press Journal)