The Federation of Kannada Organisations on Wednesday, December 22 announced a bandh on December 31 demanding a ban on the Maharashtra Ekikarana Samithi (MES) in Karnataka. Speaking to the media, Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj said that MES is causing unrest in the state by fuelling tension between the Kannadigas and Marathi people. A bandh will be observed from 6 am to 6 pm on December 31, Nagaraj added.
"We are giving a deadline to the Karnataka government to ban MES by December 29 midnight. If they fail to ban, a bandh will be observed across the state. It is a question of self-respect. No one should oppose this bandh," he said.
Various Kannada organisations have extended support to the bandh. However, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike President, Narayana Gowda said that they don't support the call for a bandh. "People have just been recovering from COVID-19 infection. Bandh is not a solution for all problems. We will protest against MES in a different way," he added.
The entire row started after the MES tried to hold an event against the winter session of the Karnataka Assembly in Belagavi and Kannada activists blackened a portrait of a MES leader. Following this, several retaliations and counter retaliations by Kannada and Marathi organisations such as burning of the Karnataka flag and vandalisation of historical figuresâ€™ statues including Shivaji and Sangolli Rayanna took place.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka police on Wednesday beefed up security in Belagavi district in view of Maratha activists from Maharashtra threatening to cross the border and hold protests. Police sources told IANS that the activists had made statements regarding the border crossing while condemning the desecration of a Shivaji statue in Bengaluru. "We do not want to take any chances and security has been tightened in the border areas to prevent Maratha activists from entering the state to stage protests," police said.
The police also said that the Maratha activists have gathered in Maharashtra on the other side of the Kagawad border and police are on a high alert to prevent any untoward incident. Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has slapped sedition charges and invoked the Goonda Act on miscreants who vandalised freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna and desecrated Shivaji statues. The government has also warned that it will spare anyone trying to disturb the law and order situation in the state. The police department has taken extra measures as the 10-day winter session of the Assembly session is being held in the border town of Belagavi.