Tensions in parts of Belagavi subsided Wednesday, even as there were indications that the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra may flare up ahead of the winter session of the Karnataka legislature scheduled at Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, Belagavi from December 19 to 30.
The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) – a vocal proponent of the inclusion of Belagavi and other Marathi-speaking areas in Maharashtra – said that it would go ahead with its planned ‘Mahamela’ to protest against the session in the border city.
The Belagavi city police registered two FIRs against 10-15 unknown Kannada activists in connection with the recent vandalism of vehicles bearing Maharashtra number plates near Hirebagewadi, around 20 km from the city, Belagavi police commissioner Dr MB Boralingaiah told indianexpress.com.
Movement of vehicles at the Belagavi border near Kognoli Toll Plaza was unaffected, save for government buses belonging to transport corporations of Karnataka and Maharashtra. The operation of buses between the two states is expected to resume normalcy in the coming days.
The Belagavi district police also dismissed rumours that pilgrims travelling from Maharashtra to the temple towns of Savadatti-Yellamma and Godachi were mistreated. Belagavi superintendent of police Sanjiv Patil said adequate security arrangements were made in these towns to prevent any untoward incidents. “Security arrangements at these temples will continue until required,” he said.
Former MES MLA Manohar Kinekar said they would go ahead with their annual protest against the legislature session being held at Belagavi in December. He said that the situation was currently peaceful and any action of MES will be in response to that of Kannada organisations.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedike president Narayana Gowda lashed out at the elected representatives from Belagavi district for being ‘silent’ about the dispute. “They don’t say anything because they fear that it will affect their vote bank,” he said.
Kannada activist Ashok Chandargi contended that the dispute was linked to political developments in Maharashtra. The NCP has raked the issue in Parliament for political gain, he said, adding that the dispute would likely continue until the Assembly elections are over in Karnataka.