In District At Centre Of Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Row, Clash Over Flag At College Fest

A minor student allegedly assaulted by others after he waved the traditional Kannada/Karnataka flag

Belagavi (Karnataka):

The Maharashtra-Karnataka border row that has escalated over the past two weeks led to a clash at an inter-college fest in Belagavi, the Karnataka district that Maharashtra lays claim on, earlier this week. It started allegedly because a student was waving the traditional Kannada or Karnataka flag, which Marathi students got angry at and assaulted the flag-waving student — a video of which has gone viral in the past two days.

Teachers and other staff members of the host college at Tilakwadi in Belagavi intervened to stop the fight, police said. Area police chief Ravindra Gadadi and other officers went to the college and started an an inquiry. 

The assaulted student — a minor who is in second year of pre-university (Class 12) — was also told by the cops he should not have stoked the controversy by waving the flag at a time when the border row has intensified, it is learnt.

The territorial dispute that goes back to the language-based reorganisation of states flared up recently after Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai indirectly laid a claim to some areas of Maharashtra.

But at the heart of it is Maharashtra's demand, that Belagavi and some other Marathi-speaking areas were wrongly given to Kannada-majority Karnataka in the reorganisation. The matter continues to be in the Supreme Court for several decades.

Politics on the matter has become trickier as the BJP is in power in both states, and elections are due next year in Karnataka.

"The border dispute is a political tool used by all parties in Maharashtra," Mr Bommai has said, adding that Maharashtra's pleas have not been found valid as the reorganisation has "not been reviewed in any case all these years".

The Maharashtra leadership termed Mr Bommai's statements "provocative".

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