Hundreds of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) supporters were detained in the southern state Tuesday after they allegedly pelted stones at vehicles bearing Maharashtra registration numbers. They also defaced the number plates of some vehicles with black paint.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai received a call from Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis regarding the Hirebagewadi incident. Bommai said he has directed police officers to take action against the culprits.
The violence broke out after KRV activists headed towards Belagavi were stopped by the police near National Highway-4 Hirebagewadi toll plaza. The incident happened against the backdrop of controversial remarks made by politicians in both Karnataka and Maharashtra related to villages bordering both states.
Notably, Belagavi deputy commissioner Nitesh Patil issued an order Monday prohibiting a Maharashtra delegation including ministers from entering Karnataka. The order said, “There are chances of them (ministers) giving provocative speeches and controversial statements during their visit, which may lead to linguistic disharmony and a law and order problem, it may also cause loss of public properties.”
Officials said more than 1,000 police personnel have been deployed on border roads connecting Karnataka and Maharashtra. Belagavi superintendent of police Sanjeev M Patil said police personnel have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents. The vehicles entering from Maharashtra are being thoroughly checked at the borders, he added.
Reacting to the police’s move to bar KRV supporters from entering Belagavi, KRV chief Narayana Gowda said it was unfair to stop Kannadigas from visiting the city which is a part of the state.
“We are not going to Maharashtra to protest but to Belagavi which is an integral part of Karnataka. Is this a police state? Our plan was to send a strong message to Maharashtra that we will not sit quietly… Our plan was to hoist a thousand Karnataka flags at Belagavi…” said Gowda.
He criticised the state government stating that it allows outfits like Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) to organise Marathi Maha Melava and other events but suppresses “movements protecting the land, language and culture of Karnataka”.
Meanwhile, reacting to NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s statement that he will enter Karnataka if the issue was not resolved in the next 48 hours, Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj said they will launch a protest against Pawar. He said, “Even if Sharad Pawar or any minister from Maharashtra arrives in Karnataka, they should be arrested. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai should not think twice as it is about the state’s interest. This issue is beyond politics.”
The North West Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (NWKSRTC) suspended bus services to parts of Maharashtra for two hours Tuesday owing to the violence. A transport official said they will run services in the coming days after “factoring in the volatile situation”.