As Chavan talks tough,Belgaum feels the heat

On a day when violence erupted in parts of Maharashtra over the Belgaum issue,the city that is at the epicentre of the disquiet remained tense yet calm....

Written by Swatee Kher | Belgaum | Published: January 22, 2009 12:48 am

On a day when violence erupted in parts of Maharashtra over the Belgaum issue,the city that is at the epicentre of the disquiet remained tense yet calm.

With the Karnataka Assembly session on,heavy police was deployed in the Chanamma circle,the central area which divides the city along Marathi-speaking and Kannada-speaking pockets.

The border town that has been an area of contention between Maharashtra and Karnataka for over five decades has seen an escalation of the issue over the last week after the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) was not granted permission to organise a mahamelava — a parallel meeting against the Karnataka Government holding an Assembly session in Belgaum. The sessions are being held here since 2006,and according to pro-Maharashtra protestors,this is an attempt by Karnataka to stake its claim over the city.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Wednesday expressed displeasure over Karnataka’s move. “As a government we could condemn the violence,but we are not doing it,and we are expressing concern,” he said,adding that he would write to the Karnataka Government in this regard and lead an all-party delegation to meet the PM.

Almost 3,500 policemen are on duty in Belgaum now,warding off protestors. The area where the Assembly session is being held is cordoned off,with only pass holders and authorised vehicles being permitted near it,said IGP (Belgaum) Raghavendra Avradkar.

Though many MES workers are lying low since the police action and arrests on January 21,anger is simmering.

(With inputs from Mumbai)

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