Belagavi: Large gatherings have been banned in Belagavi as the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra touched its latest flashpoint after a statue of Chatrapati Shivaji in Bengaluru was smeared with ink.
Pro-Maharashtra activists staged a protest last night at Sambhaji Circle in Belagavi, demanding arrest of those involved in the smearing of Shivaji’s statue with ink. The protest turned violent and over a dozen Government vehicles were damaged in stone-pelting. Also, freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna’s statue in Belagavi was damaged last night, adding to the tension in the area. Meanwhile, 27 people had been arrested for attacking the Sangolli Rayanna statue. “27 arrested in 3 Police Station limits in Belagavi for attacking the Sangolli Rayanna statue,” said K. Tyagarajan, Commissioner of Police, Belagavi.
“I have given instructions to Police to take strict action against those who damaged Sangolli Rayanna’s statue here in Belagavi. Strict action will be taken against those who smeared ink on Shivaji’s statue in Bengaluru. I appeal to the people, for the sake of politics, don’t insult legends like Shivaji Maharaj and Sangolli Rayanna,” Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said.
The build-up to the latest flashpoint began on Dec. 13 when Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, which has been demanding that Belagavi be integrated with Maharashtra, staged a protest outside the Assembly. The winter session of Karnataka Assembly is being held at Belagavi. Soon after, members of pro-Kannada outfits smeared ink on the face of the Samiti’s Deepak Dalvi. Those accused in the incident were arrested thereafter. In retaliation, Kannada flag was reportedly burnt by supporters of the Samiti at Maharashtra’s Kolhapur on Tuesday.
The next night, Shivaji’s statue in Bengaluru was smeared with ink. A video of a man pouring ink on the statue has now gone viral. Karnataka Assembly has decided to pass a censure motion against the burning of Kannada flag in Kolhapur and send it to Maharashtra Government, seeking action against those involved.
Belagavi Top Cop has issued prohibitory orders in Belagavi city limits from 8 am on Dec. 18 to 6 pm on Dec. 19.