Border row: Karnataka suspends bus services to Maharashtra owing to protests

PTI

Nation, Current Affairs

File photo of a group of activists allegedly from a pro-Marathi outfit painting Karnataka state-owned buses with slogans such as "Jai Maharashtra'' in black ink. (Photo: ANI)

BELGAVI: The North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) on Wednesday suspended its services to Maharashtra after reports emerged of some buses being defaced and damaged in the regions bordering Belagavi district.

Both states have voiced out concerns regarding Belagavi with Maharashtra staking claim that the region should be merged with it while Karnataka has reiterated its jurisdiction over the area.

"We are operating our buses only up to Nipani (in Belagavi district) due to tension, which has been there since morning," an officer in the North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation told PTI.

According to him, a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation bus that was coming from Maharashtra to Ranebennur was also damaged.

"The glasses of the bus were damaged. Other than this incident, some buses were defaced," the officer added.

According to the divisional manager of NWSRTC, services of as many as 50 buses from Nipani, 200 buses from Belagavi and 150 buses from Chikodi were suspended with immediate effect.

Due to the suspension of the buses to Maharashtra, the state transport body will incur a loss of Rs 25 lakh per day, he added.

The officer said the Maharashtra government has also suspended services of 60 buses running towards Karnataka.

However for the time being, a few buses from both sides were being deployed till the border where the passengers alighted and boarded the buses of their respective destinations, the NWSRTC officer added.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike again held agitations in the border regions following the defacement of buses. The activists said that they will also retaliate with similar vigour if the buses were targeted.

In view of the tension resurfacing in the border region, the police on both sides tightened security. Buses were provided extra security to protect the vehicles and the passengers.

The row over the region began after two Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai, who were appointed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to coordinate with the legal team dealing with the border dispute, announced their visit to Belagavi on December 6.

Following vehement protests by pro-Kannada organisations in Maharashtra, the duo postponed their trip. In reaction, there were protests in the western state as well.

Maharashtra has been demanding the merger of Belagavi on the ground that there is a substantial Marathi-speaking population in the border district. However, the Karnataka government rejected their claim.

The neighbouring state has approached the Supreme Court as well.

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