Will support fight to include Marathi-speaking Karnataka areas in Maha: Ajit Pawar

Maharashtra claims certain areas, including Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani which are part of Karnataka

Pune: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Sunday said they would continue to support the fight of Marathi-speaking people residing in border areas of neighbouring Karnataka to include those places in Maharashtra.

He was addressing a gathering in Pune city on the occasion of Maharashtra's foundation day. The western state was formed on this day in 1960.

"While we are celebrating 62 years of formation of Maharashtra, we regret that the Marathi-speaking villages in Bidar, Bhalki, Belgaum, Karwar, Nippani and other places in Karnataka could not be merged with Maharashtra. The citizens of Maharashtra and its government are with their fight to be part of Maharashtra. I assure that we would keep supporting their fight till these villages become part of Maharashtra," Pawar said.

Maharashtra claims certain areas, including Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani which are part of Karnataka, contending that majority population in these areas is Marathi-speaking.

The case of Maharashtra-Karnataka bounding dispute is pending before the Supreme Court.

Talking to reporters after the programme, Pawar expressed concern over a large number of swords recently seized from parts of Maharashtra and said the state police department was keeping an eye on it and trying to find people behind such activities.

On Wednesday, police had seized 89 swords and a dagger from an SUV in Maharashtra's Dhule district and arrested four people in this connection.

Pawar said this indicates there may be some people who want to be involved in anti-social activities.

"We have asked police to conduct a probe into the seizure of such weapons. We appeal to everyone to maintain religious harmony. While expressing their thoughts, people should take care that their words do not provoke sentiments of any community," he added.

Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, who was also present in the programme, said political meetings, rallies and gatherings will go on and the police department will work to maintain peace and harmony during the Maharashtra foundation day celebrations.

"They (police) are prepared for any kind of situation. I appeal to everyone to maintain social harmony," Walse Patil said when asked about various political events slated in Maharashtra on the state's foundation day.

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