Maharashtra lacks the willpower to fulfill the aspirations of Marathi-speaking people in Belagavi and other areas in Karnataka and the politicians in the state have surrendered themselves to the rulers in Delhi, a leader of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) alleged on Wednesday.
MES leader Kiran Thakur also claimed that those in power at the Centre kept the issue unresolved under the belief that it would die its own death. The MES has been demanding the merger of Belagavi with Maharashtra claiming the district has a substantial Marathi population.
The Maharashtra legislature on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to ”legally pursue” the inclusion of 865 Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka into the western state, amid the raging boundary dispute.
The resolution moved by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in both Houses said the state government will legally pursue in the Supreme Court the case to include (in Maharashtra) ”every inch” of the land of Belgaum, Karwar Bidar, Nipani, Bhalki cities and the 865 Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka.
The long-drawn border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is a fight for the linguistic rights of the Marathi-speaking people, Thakur said.
”For last 66 years, 865 villages of Belgaum (Belagavi), Karwar, Bidar, Nipani, Supa, Halyal, Khanapur and surrounding Marathi-speaking areas (in Karnataka) are fighting for linguistic rights in a democratic manner,” he said.
These areas were taken from the Bombay Presidency and put into Karnataka during the linguistic reorganization of states.
The stand of the leaders in Delhi has been to keep the issue lingering as they feel it will die its own death, Thakur said.
”Maharashtra lacks the willpower as it has surrendered itself to Delhi. The Maharashtra government moved the Supreme Court on March 28, 2004, and still for the last 18 years there has been no solution in sight,” he said.
There has been a demand that the areas claimed by Maharashtra be declared a Union Territory till the apex court gives its verdict, he added.
”Village as a unit, relative linguistic majority, geographical contiguity and wishes of the majority people are criteria and based on them, these 865 villages have the right to be in Maharashtra,” the MES leader said.
The Marathi-speaking people from the border areas included in Karnataka are a linguistic minority as far as Karnataka state is concerned, Thakur said, adding that they are legally entitled to the protection of their linguistic and cultural rights.
”When Marathi people organize peaceful protests against the injustice of being denied their rights, the protests are ruthlessly curbed using police force,” he said.
Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to more than 800 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.
Karnataka maintains the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report as final.