Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said people of the state have deep emotional connect with residents of Marathi-speaking areas in adjoining Karnataka and their fight for a merger will continue till the goal is achieved.
Karnataka and Maharashtra are locked in a decades-long boundary dispute with people from Marathi-speaking areas of Belgaum, Karwar and nearby villages demanding that they be made part of the western state on linguistic ground.
Karnataka is vehemently opposed to the merger demand, which has led to agitations in the past with some of them turning violent.
"The emotional strength of 12 crore Maharashtrians is with their brethren on the Karnataka border fighting to be part of this state. We will get justice," Fadnavis said.
He was speaking after conferring this year's Acharya Atre Award, instituted by the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, to 'Tarun Bharat' Editor Kiran Thakur, whose paper has been consistently highlighting the merger issues.
"For the past so many years, we have been asked as to how long the agitations will last... to which we have a simple answer... they will last till the Marathi-speaking areas along the Maharashtra-Karnataka border are merged with the state," the Chief Minister said.
He further claimed that Maharashtra has never committed atrocities in the name of language but the same cannot be said about the southern state.
"There would never be atrocities against linguistic minorities in Maharashtra like what has been seen in Karnataka in respect to Marathi-speaking people," he claimed.
"The (boundary) dispute is now in Supreme Court. But, in people's court, we have people like Thakur to fight our case," he said, assuring of his government's support to the "cause of Marathi-speaking people of Karnataka".