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Updated on: Saturday, December 18, 2021, 11:42 PM IST

Shivaji Maharaj statue vandalised in Belgavi: Old fissures and new flashpoint in Karnataka town

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The ruling MVA partners have strongly protested against the alleged desecration of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s statue in Bangalore and questioned state BJP’s deafening silence on the vandalism.

(A video that showed the smearing of the statue went viral on social media on Friday night; livid at the action, youngsters took to the streets, shouted slogans and pelted stones at government vehicles. In a tit-for-tat action, freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna's statue was also vandalized. Since Belagavi is playing host to the winter session of Karnataka legislature, the police commissioner has imposed prohibitory order under section 144 of the CrPC from Saturday morning till 6 am on Sunday.)

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has demanded immediate action on part of the Karnataka government in the matter; he has also sought PM Modi’s intervention to stop ‘Kannada atrocities’ and check the ‘pervert mindset.’ He said the incident cannot be taken lightly as for several years Marathi speaking people in Karnataka are facing atrocities.

Thackeray, who heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state, said Shivaji Maharaj is a deity not only in Maharashtra but an icon in the entire country. He warned that any disrespect and insult of the founder of Maratha kingdom will not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, following the alleged desecration of the statue, miscreants in Belagavi shouted slogans and pelted government vehicles with stones; in a tit-for-tat action, freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna's statue was also vandalised. Since Belagavi is playing host to the winter session of Karnataka legislature, the police have promulgated prohibitory orders to prevent untoward incidents and maintain law and order.

Referring to PM Modi’s speech in Varanasi, Thackeray recalled that PM had said whenever India’s culture was crushed, warrior kings like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had risen. Thackeray said it should be kept in mind that hurting Marathi pride will prove costly. The Centre should give up double standards and take stern steps.

Home Minister and veteran NCP leader Dilip Walse-Patil also condemned the incident and urged the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is on a two-day Maharashtra visit, to direct the Karnataka government to take immediate action against the culprits.

‘‘The incident has reverberated in some places in Maharashtra, including the state of Karnataka. I appeal to all Chhatrapati Shivaji lovers in Maharashtra not to react violently,’’ he said.

Senior Congress leader and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat warned that such incidents will not be tolerated.

The alleged defacing of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue took place days after the Kannada activists threw black ink at prominent Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) leaders for taking out a Maha Melava Rally demanding merger of border town of Belagavi with Maharashtra. It led to tension between Maharashtra and Karnataka which are locked in a bitter border dispute. Maharashtra has been demanding the inclusion of border areas, including Belagavi, which Karnataka is strongly opposing.

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Published on: Saturday, December 18, 2021, 11:42 PM IST
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