Minister of state for health Rajendra Patil-Yedravkar was detained in Belgaum and was not allowed to speak at a meeting organised by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti on Friday. The border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is likely to intensify with Shiv Sena leader and Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut announcing that he will travel to Belgaum on Saturday.

The minister had gone to Belgaum to pay respects to the martyrs of the united Maharashtra movement. He was scheduled to speak at the event and address the workers of the committee, but he was allegedly manhandled, disallowed to speak and escorted back to the border by the police.

Raut is scheduled to reach Belgaum at 2 pm on Saturday.

“I have learnt that the Karnataka government has issued special orders to prevent my entry in Belgaum. Belgaum is in India. There may be border issues between Maharashtra and Karnataka. I am, however, a Rajya Sabha MP and an Indian citizen, hence I have decided to go.”

The border dispute between the two states has been simmering for decades. Tensions had reignited in the border areas between December 28 and 30 last year. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray raked up the issue and described Belgaum district as ‘Karnataka occupied Maharashtra’. Effigies of Thackeray and Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa were burnt on both sides of the border by local outfits. State transport buses were stopped between Kolhapur and Belgaum as a precautionary measure.

On Friday, Raut alleged that Marathi-speaking people were under attack in the neighbouring state. “For some time now, Marathi people and Marathi language are constantly under attack by the Karnataka government and even Marathi literary meets have been banned,” he added.

Maharashtra claims an area of 2,806 square miles involving 814 villages. Three urban settlements of Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani were all part of the Mumbai Presidency before independence.

The Marathi-speaking villages are spread across Belagavi and Uttar Kannada in north-western Karnataka, and Bidar and Gulbarga districts in north-eastern Karnataka — all bordering Maharashtra.

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