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As border row escalates, Maharashtra suspends bus services to Karnataka; Eknath Shinde, Basavaraj Bommai speak over phone

Amid rising tension between the two states over the border row, a video surfaced on social media showing some people throwing stones at vehicles entering Karnataka from Maharashtra near a toll booth at Hirebaugwadi in the Belagavi district of the adjoining state.

As border row escalates, Maharashtra suspends bus services to Karnataka; Eknath Shinde, Basavaraj Bommai speak over phone

New Delhi: A Maharashtra ministerial delegation's proposed visit to Belagavi in Karnataka did not materialise on Tuesday amid simmering tension over the boundary row, while transport corporation MSRTC suspended bus services to the southern state citing a police advisory. Amid the raging border dispute between the two states, Karnataka and Maharashtra Chief Ministers spoke to each other over the phone on Tuesday night and agreed that there should be peace and law and order should be maintained on both sides. In a related development, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai over stone pelting on vehicles from Maharashtra entering the adjoining state and said he will also take up the matter with the Centre.

Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai, appointed for coordinating the state's border dispute with Karnataka, were slated to visit Belagavi district earlier on Tuesday, but the tour did not materialise, leading to an angry reaction from Opposition parties who dubbed them as "cowards".

The two ministers were scheduled to meet activists of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) at Belagavi in Karnataka and hold talks with them on the decades-old border issue. MES is an organisation fighting for the merger of Belagavi and some other border areas with Maharashtra.

The development came a day after Bommai said he will ask his Maharashtra counterpart Eknath Shinde to not to depute his cabinet colleagues -- Patil and Desai -- to Belagavi as planned citing law and order, even as prohibitory orders were clamped in the border district ahead of the proposed visit of the delegation.

Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSRTC) on Tuesday afternoon suspended bus services to Karnataka citing a police advisory, a top official said.

MSRTC Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Shekhar Channe told PTI the decision was taken considering the safety of passengers travelling to Karnataka and to avoid damage to their property.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Fadnavis spoke to Karnataka Chief Minister Bommai over stone pelting on vehicles from Maharashtra entering the southern state and said he will also take up the matter with the Centre.

He blamed Karnataka for creating needless controversy over the border row after the Maharashtra government last month appointed two ministers to coordinate with the legal team regarding the court case on the decades-old boundary dispute between the two states.

In the backdrop of rising tension between the two states over the border row, a video surfaced on social media showing some people throwing stones at vehicles entering Karnataka from Maharashtra near a toll booth at Hirebaugwadi in Belagavi district of the adjoining state.

Sources close to the Maharashtra Deputy CM said, "Fadnavis made a phone call to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and expressed his disappointment over the Hirebaugwadi incident."

"The Karnataka Chief Minister assured Fadnavis of strong action against the perpetrators. He also assured Fadnavis that vehicles entering Karnataka from Maharashtra will be given proper protection," the sources said.

Speaking to reporters, Fadnavis said, "I am going to inform Union Home Minister Amit Shah about today's incident as well. It is not a good thing if such incidents keep taking place between the two states."

The deputy CM, who also handles the home portfolio, said the Constitution allows free movement of people in the country.

"The Constitution has empowered everyone to travel from one state to another, start a business or to live anywhere. If this fundamental right is being trampled upon, then the state in question should stop such incidents," he said.

The border issue dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines. Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to 814 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of the southern state. Karnataka, however, considers the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report as final.

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