Maha minister condemns lathicharge on Marathi people in Karnataka

Maharashtra Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde has condemned the August 2,8 lathicharge by police on Marathi-speaking people in Belagavi district in neighbouring Karnataka and demanded action.

The incident had occurred in Peeranwadi village when a section of people objected to installation of a statue of 18th century warrior and freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna.

They were opposed to the location where they wanted to install a statue of Maratha ruler Chhatrapatai Shivaji Maharaj.

Police had resorted to lathi charge to bring the situation under control.

In a letter dated August 28 addressed to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Shinde, who is Coordination Minister for matters related to the Karnataka-Maharashtra boundary dispute, stated that Rayanna's statue was being erected in front of the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

"Marathi-speaking people are not opposed to installing the statue of the freedom fighter. But the statue (of Rayanna) is being deliberately erected close to the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. A demand was also made to rename Shivaji Maharaj Chowk where the statue stands," the Shiv Sena leader said.

Shinde said the statue move was a deliberate attempt to create a Marathi-Kannada conflict.

"When Marathi-speaking people were protesting, they were brutally lathicharged by the police," he stated.

Earlier, tension had prevailed in Mangutti village in Karnataka after the statue of the Maratha warrior king was removed.

"The Karnataka government should take action in this regard and ensure there is no Marathi-Kannada conflict," Shinde added.

Maharashtra and Karnataka have been locked in a bitter boundary dispute for decades, with the former demanding that villages with Marathi-speaking population in the southern state be merged with it.

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