January 18, 2021 1:01:21 am
Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum district of Karnataka were left disappointed on Sunday after Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was on a visit to Belgaum, could not meet them.
“We had sought an appointment with the Union home minister during his visit to Belgaum on Sunday. However, his office told us that he was preoccupied with other programmes and hence will not meet us,” Shubham Shelke, president of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) youth wing told The Indian Express.
Shelkhe said they had also contacted Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and had urged him to fix an appointment with Shah. “Patil had promised us that Shah will meet us but that did not happen,” said Shelke
The Marathi-speaking people, under the banner of MES, were denied permission to take out a rally on the occasion of Hutatma Din. Maharashtra Minister Rajendra Patil Yedvarkar was prevented by the Karnataka Police from entering Belgaum area.
“We gathered at Hutatma chowk and paid tributes to the martyrs. Every year, only 300-400 people take out a rally. Even that was denied citing Covid-19 restrictions. But the Home Minister was allowed to hold the rally with mammoth gathering,” said Shelke.
He added that they wanted to meet the home minister and apprise him of the “continued atrocities being committed on Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum”. “When the central government can abrogate Article 370 in Kashmir, why can’t they stop the atrocities on Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum? BJP local leaders speak in our favour but the central leaders do little for us. BJP has a government in Karnataka and at the Centre, yet they have not resolved our problems,” Shelke said.
He added that Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum were “forced to speak in Kannad” language. “We are told to put up boards in Kannad language. Discrimination in government jobs against Marathi-speaking people has been going on for years. Recently, the local administration had even started sealing hotels and cancelling our licences if the boards were not in Kannad language,” Shelke said, adding, “We want to bring all these humiliations of Marathi-speaking people to the Home Minister’s notice.”
Anand Mense, former MES member, said, “The Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum want to live with pride and dignity, but they are not being allowed to do so. They are being forced to do things against their will.”
Malojirao Ashtekar, a senior member of MES, said, “…If the home minister had met us, he would have understood our problems. He could have also directed the Karnataka government to alleviate our miseries.”
Shah addressed a rally and also visited the residence of late Union Mnister Suresh Angadi and consoled his family.
– Stay updated with the latest Pune news. Follow Express Pune on Twitter here and on Facebook here. You can also join our Express Pune Telegram channel here.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines