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'Why indulge in acts that could harm India's unity and integrity?'

December 07, 2022 10:27 IST

'It is Maharashtra that started this fire.'
'Suddenly, out of nowhere, they started talking about the border dispute being sub judice and they started talking about meeting the people in Belagavi who want to break up our state.'

IMAGE: Karnataka Rakshana Vedike workers stage a rasta roko in protest against Maharashtra's interference in Karnataka's border near Belagavi. Photographs: Kind courtesy Karnataka Rakshana Vedike

Sanneerappa B general secretary of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, tells that it is Maharashtra's responsibility to calm the situation by not resorting sending ministers to Belagavi which Karnataka considers its integral part.

The Vedike spearheaded the agitation against the proposed visit by two Maharashtra ministers to Belagavi to meet leaders of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, the frontal organisation leading the agitation for Belagavi's merger with Maharashtra.

Sanneerappa says his organisation and political parties in Maharashtra like Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena could find common cause and would like to work together with Marathi organisations against the imposition of Hindi, allowing aspirants of Union employment schemes to answer exams in other Indian languages instead of just English and Hindi.

While refuting charges of being responsible for Tuesday's vandalism against vehicles from Maharashtra, Sanneerappa tells's Prasanna D Zore, "There are lots of border villages in Maharashtra's Jath and Akkalkot where Kannadigas live. Our ministers can also go there and do such drama. But we are not doing it because we respect the Constitution and our laws."

What are the reasons for the protest launched by the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike in Belagavi?

The reason is that some Maharashtra ministers (Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai) were planning to visit Belagavi (to meet leaders of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, the umbrella organisation in Belagavi leading the agitation for Belagavi's unification with Maharashtra); the visit of these ministers to meet people who want to break Karnataka is not good for the Union of India.

Their acts are an attack on India's federalism and Constitution.

Marathi and Kannada people have been living together peacefully for long in Belagavi. There is always some trigger from especially the Maharashtra government side to visit Belagavi without any reason to refresh the border dispute between the two states.

If they come to Karnataka for attending some private functions or for non-political reasons, we will welcome them wholeheartedly, but if they think they can vitiate the atmosphere, to trigger violence or spoil the law-and-order situation in Karnataka for reaping political gains in Maharashtra then we will continue with our agitation.

Belagavi was always an integral part of Karnataka and it will remain so.

We have been protesting against such political visits from Maharashtra's leaders and will continue to do so.

Thousands of our people as well as ordinary Kannadigas have come from all across Karnataka to protest against such political interference and attempts to redraw Karnataka's political map by the politicians from Maharashtra.

Through our protests we are demanding that the Karnataka government doesn't allow any such leaders (from Maharashtra) to visit Belagavi.

The Karnataka police took under custody almost 4,200 KRV workers. I don't know how many of them have been arrested or detained.

Is it correct to vandalise vehicles coming from Maharashtra to Karnataka during such protests?

No such incident has happened in Karnataka; none of our workers are involved in these attacks.

There are news television visuals showing attacks on Maharashtra vehicles on the Pune-Bengaluru highway.

I have not come across such reports. Our workers are not involved.

IMAGE: Karnataka Rakshana Vedike workers stop vehicles coming in from Maharashtra.

Opposition party leaders in Maharashtra including Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar blame Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for vitiating the atmosphere by inviting people from border areas of the state to join Karnataka?
Mr Pawar has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Karnataka government to stop such attacks.

It is Maharashtra that started this fire. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they started talking about the border dispute being sub judice and they started talking about meeting the people in Belagavi who want to break up our state.

That is when the Karnataka chief minister stated that we are committed to the findings and recommendations of the Mahajan Commission report.

(The Mahajan Commission set up in 1966 under India's third Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, which had representatives from both Maharashtra and Karnataka, had recommended in 1967 that 264 villages should merge with Maharashtra and 247 villages, including Belagavi, should remain with Karnataka.
Maharashtra has staked claims to 814 villages and has refused to accept the Mahajan Commission report; the case is pending in the Supreme Court which has the Original Jurisdiction in such disputes between two state governments.
A few days before the Supreme Court hearing on Maharashtra's plea on the border dispute on November 30, Karnataka Chief Minister Bommai told media that 40 villages from Maharashtra's Jath taluka in Sangli district had resolved to join Karnataka in 2012 and that his government was 'seriously' considering the proposal for the merger of these villages

The Mahajan Commission was set up based on the request from the Maharashtra government, but when it came out with its recommendations, the Maharashtra government refused to accept them. The Commission specifically said that Belagavi will remain with Karnataka, but the Maharashtra government rejected the recommendation.

But the matter is in the Supreme Court now.

Yes, that is right and so the Maharashtra government should let the Supreme Court decide upon the issue instead of play gimmicks like visiting Belagavi and lay its claim upon Karnataka's territory.

There are lots of border villages in Maharashtra's Jath and Akkalkot where Kannadigas live. Our ministers can also go there and do such drama. But we are not doing it because we respect the Constitution and our laws.

Didn't the Maharashtra-Karnataka border row only revive after Mr Bommai said that his government was 'seriously' considering the resolution passed by 40 villages in Jath taluk to join Karnataka?

No. He just mentioned the facts before the media when a question related to this issue was asked. He was just responding to questions from the media (Reacting to Bommai's comments, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state's claim on Belagavi was non-negotiable to which Bommai replied in a tweet that Karnataka would never cede even an inch of its land to Maharashtra and was in fact contemplating merger of Kannadiga speaking areas of Solapur into Karnataka).

Our leaders are not organising meetings with people of Jath and Akkalkot to instigate them to join Karnataka.

We remain committed to the recommendations of the Mahajan Commission.

Leaders from Opposition parties in Maharashtra are now issuing ultimatums that if attacks on Maharashtra vehicles in Karnataka don't stop, the patience of people of Maharashtra could also run out. Where does this stop?

To put this record straight I wish to remind the people of Maharashtra that first workers of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray's faction) started painting vehicles of Karnataka State Road Transport in saffron with 'Jai Maharashtra'.

If you look at the chronology of these vandalisms you will find out that Shiv Sena workers were doing it since the last two weeks.

Soon after ,the Karnataka government welcomed vehicles from Maharashtra by giving them flowers.

The two Maharashtra ministers have said they postponed their visit to Belagavi, but they have not cancelled their visit.

Whenever these politicians plan to visit Belagavi for such political purpose or for instigating people of Belagavi, then we will respond with more protests and agitations. These leaders will not be allowed to step into Karnataka and demand that Belagavi should join Maharashtra.

We will continue building pressure on our state government with the demand that such political interference will not be tolerated by the people of Karnataka.

Let Kannadigas and Marathi people live in harmony on both sides of our borders. Why come here and vitiate the atmosphere?

Why indulge in acts that could harm India's unity and integrity?

IMAGE: Karnataka Rakshana Vedike General Secretary Sanneerappa B.

Leaders from Maharashtra are also saying the same thing and blaming Karnataka for vitiating the atmosphere...

Why would the KRV launch agitations if Maharashtra's politicians don't come to Belagavi and demand that Belagavi be made part of Maharashtra? We never go to Maharashtra and claim their land.

When will such violence stop?

Karnataka is not responsible for violence. It is Maharashtra's responsibility. All violence began from their side.

Our protests, including today's protests, are reactionary. Belagavi is and will remain with Karnataka. Allow people of Belagavi to live peacefully and we demand that our government put pressure on the Union government for the implementation of Mahajan Commission report.

We also demand that the Union government put pressure on the Maharashtra government to accept the Mahajan Commission's recommendations. It is on their demand this Commission was set up.

Moreover, there are lot of common issues (that the people of Karnataka and Maharashtra will have to fight for together) of federalism, unemployment, inflation, etc.

The Karnataka Rakshana Vedike has lot of common cause with the MNS (the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) and Shiv Sena also when it comes to imposition of Hindi on other states.

We also want to launch campaigns for conducting employment related exams for Union government jobs in all the Indian languages and not just in English and Hindi but also in other Indian languages spoken here like Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Assamese, Manipuri, Gujarati, etc.

We want to work with Marathi organisations for these campaigns.

There are many constructive issues on which we would like to collaborate with the people of Maharashtra.