Amid the heat over Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary dispute, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to mollify Maharashtra by indicating that steps would be taken to protect the rights of linguistic minorities in border areas. The assurance was understood to have been given by Singh to an all-party delegation from Maharashtra led by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. The PM's assurance came in the backdrop of political parties in Maharashtra reacting sharply to the counter affidavit filed by the Centre on the contentious issue in the Supreme Court last month, which was welcomed by Karnataka but created a row in Maharashtra.
"The contents and tone of the affidavit have caused strong reaction across the state and the border area. Reports of use of force by the Karnataka police on the peaceful Marathi-speaking demonstrators has also been received in Maharashtra", the delegation said in the memorandum. Chavan had yesterday demanded the Centre make 865 Marathi-speaking villages of Karnataka an Union Territory till the Supreme Court settles the border dispute between the two states. The Centre, in reply to Maharashtra's claim over Karnataka's Marathi-speaking
The delegation regretted that alleged use of force by Karnataka has resulted in "injustice, gross violation of human rights and has caused considerable pain among the Marathi-speaking population in Maharashtra and elsewhere". The CM said that both the Houses of the Maharashtra legislature have resolved to request the Centre to review its stand on the border issue, take immediate steps to resolve the same and stop the injustice being caused to the people in the disputed area.
Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal warned of "unrest" if the injustice continued against the Marathi-speakingpeople. Noting that the protection of rights of linguistic minorities is enshrined in the Constitution, the PMassured the delegation that the Home minister will be asked to examine the matter and take steps that deem fit,Chavan said. As regards the boundary dispute, the PM declined to comment noting that it was sub-judice, the CM said.