Bus services between Karnataka and Maharashtra stand suspended until further notice after the Marathi-versus-Kannada row erupted yet again in the border areas, leading to stone pelting and ink-smearing campaigns on both sides over the past two days. After protesters threw stones at Maharashtra state transport buses in Kolhapur late Friday night, corporations in both states deemed the environment unsafe and withdrew their buses.
The latest round of protests is believed to have started two days ago as alleged Shiv Sena members blackened Kannada signboards at the famed Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur, which draws thousands of devotees from across the border. Citing Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray’s claims on Belagavi, the vandals reportedly abused shopkeepers from Karnataka. Videos of the incident went viral, and within 24 hours, pro-Kannada outfits in Belagavi smeared Marathi signboards with black paint.
Pro-Kannada outfits and the rival Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Ekikarna Samiti staged protests in the city and submitted memorandums to the local police. The stoning of Maharashtra state buses in Kolhapur on Friday reignited the chaos.
As a precaution, the Belagavi division of North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation suspended 400 buses plying to Maharashtra, and the latter suspended 58 buses. Belagavi division controller Mahadevappa Munji said all Maharashtra state buses have been sent back.