Karnataka denies entry to Maharashtra ministers visiting Belagavi

This comes amid the border dispute that dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.

In a major development, the Karnataka government has denied entry to Maharashtra ministers visiting the bordering Belagavi district.

Nitesh Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Belagavi said on Monday that the Maharashtra Ministers and parliamentarians will not be let inside the state of Karnataka on Tuesday.

“We have got the tour programme of two ministers of Maharashtra and one MP. Earlier, they claimed that the visit will be made on December 3 earlier, now it is informed that they will visit on Dec 6 (Tuesday),” he stated.

Due to their statements, the situation in the district has turned serious. If they come to the district, there will be consequences on the law and order situation. There is threat to the security of Maharashtra ministers, he explained.

“We are expecting that they will cancel the visit voluntarily. Otherwise we will be forced to take action,” DC Nitesh Patil explained.

Like how the visits of ministers and MPs were prevented earlier after releasing the orders, similar orders will be issued this time also, he said.

The prohibitory order will be issued under IPC Section 143. The Chief Secretary of Karnataka has sent a message to the Maharashtra government that if their ministers visit Belagavi, the law and order system will be challenged, he stated. Security had been tightened throughout the Belagavi border, he added.

Bommai said he will ask his Maharashtra counterpart Shinde not to send his Ministers to Belagavi, as their visit may disrupt the law and order situation in the border district.

Maharashtra Ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai are scheduled to meet the activists of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) at Belagavi in Karnataka on December 6 and hold talks with them on the border issue.

“When Maharashtra Ministers said they will be visiting Karnataka, our Chief Secretary has written to their (Maharashtra) Chief Secretary stating that they should not come in the present atmosphere, as it may create law and order situation here and their visit won’t be right,” Bommai said.

Speaking to reporters in Hubballi, he said despite this they have said that they will come to Belagavi, which is not right.

“There is harmony between people of Karnataka and Maharashtra, at the same time there is a border dispute as well. The border dispute is a closed chapter according to Karnataka, but repeatedly Maharashtra rakes up the issue and has even gone before the Supreme Court,” Bommai said.

When the matter is before Supreme Court, such acts and visits are provocative and will instigate the people. So Maharashtra Ministers should not come, he said, adding he will once again make a request to Shinde in this regard.

As per the earlier schedule, the two ministers were supposed to visit Belagavi on December 3.
MES is a pro-Maharashtra organisation, which has been fighting in the border areas of Belagavi for the merger of 800-odd villages with that state.

Reiterating the government’s stand on the proposed visit of the Maharashtra Ministers, Bommai later in Bengaluru said, instructions have been given to Police and Revenue department officials to take necessary action aimed at maintaining law and order.

“We are aware that anyone is free to move anywhere in this country, but for the maintenance of law and order, the government has powers to take a certain actions. I have already given instructions on measures to be taken for the maintenance of law and order,” he said.

The Chief Minister added he will request his Maharashtra counterpart stating, “these actions are not right, the border dispute is already settled, however, you have moved the Supreme Court, let us fight it legally. There is harmony between people of both states and no attempt should be made to disturb law and order here.”

The border dispute dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.

Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizeable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to 814 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.
Karnataka maintains the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report as final.

And, as an assertion that Belagavi is an integral part of the state, Karnataka has built the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of legislature in Bengaluru, and a legislature session is held there once a year.

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