Mumbai, November 1
Maharashtra cabinet ministers on Sunday sported black ribbons to express solidarity with Belgaum’s Marathi-speaking people who observe the foundation day of Karnataka on November 1 as ‘black day’.
Maharashtra claims Belgaum, part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, but currently a district of Karnataka, on linguistic grounds.
The dispute between the two states over Belgaum and other border areas is pending before the Supreme Court for many years.
Maharashtra Water Resources Minister and state NCP president Jayant Patil on Sunday sported a black ribbon on his arm while performing his official duties.
State Urban Development Minister and Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde released black balloons in neighbouring Thane.
Patil said NCP workers and all ministers in the state government were sporting black ribbons to express solidarity with their brethren in the boundary areas.
“Atrocities against Marathi-speaking people by Karnataka are continuing even though the case is pending in the Supreme Court,” Patil alleged while expressing confidence that Belgaum and other border areas comprising Marathi- speaking people will be part of Maharashtra.
Eknath Shinde and minister Chhagan Bhujbal in a letter to Marathi people of Karnataka said the Maharashtra government is committed towards the education, social justice, conservation of Marathi language and other issues of people in Belgaum, Karwar, Nipani, Bidar and other Marathi-speaking areas along the border.
The two ministers were last year appointed as co- coordinators to oversee the Maharashtra government’s efforts to expedite the case related to the boundary dispute.
“We both are small soldiers of this movement to include these areas into Maharashtra which is indebted to the sacrifice and courage of the local Marathi population,” they said in the letter.
Maharashtra considers everyone in the border areas who speaks Marathi irrespective of his/her caste, creed and religion as its own, the ministers said.
“We consider providing them representation and involvement in social, cultural and political field as very important and will take policy decisions from time-to-time,” they said.
“The inclusion of the Marathi-speaking areas into Maharashtra will be a dream come true for the 12 crore population in the state,” they said.
“Till that historic moment turns into a reality, Maharashtra would continue to remain in solidarity with the Marathi-speaking people in the border areas,” they added.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told reporters that the demand for inclusion of the Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka into Maharashtra was a fight for the rights of people living along the border areas of the two states.
“The 60-year-old fight was for the rights of the Marathi-speaking people living in Belgaum and other areas along the Karnataka-Maharashtra border. We need not be told that the sun and moon will continue to exist,” he said.
“This 60-year-old fight is the right of the Marathi people. Their wish to be part of Maharashtra should be respected. If the Kannada-speaking people on Karnataka-Andhra or Kerala borders wish to be part of Karnataka, their wishes, too, should be fulfilled,” he said.
Raut was responding to a reported statement of Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi that Belgaum will continue to be a part of Karnataka till the sun and moon exist.
Maharashtra Congress minister Satej Patil in a tweet in Marathi said, “Let people say anything they want. We have decided. Sanyukta Maharashtra (United Maharashtra) will be a reality with the inclusion of Belgaum.”
State Rural Development Minister Hasan Mushrif tweeted that the state cabinet ministers were sporting black ribbons and conducting their official duties to express solidarity with people in the border areas. PTI