MUMBAI: The Karnataka government has filed a case against members of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti for allegedly raising pro-Maharashtra slogans after the state-run bus with words 'Jai Maharashtra' written on it entered Belgaum.
The driver of the Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus too was booked on the complaint of the Karnataka government.
The bus is part of the new fleet that was recently inducted into service and has 'Jai Maharashtra' written on it.
It was flagged off from Mumbai Central yesterday.
According to official sources in the transport department, when the bus entered Belgaum, members of Ekikaran samiti welcomed it, and shouted pro-Maharashtra slogans, after which criminal charges were slapped against 16 persons.
The case was registered on the charges of unlawful assembly, rioting and for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence etc.
Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti is a regional party based in Belgaum. It is spearheading a campaign for merger of Belgaum in Maharashtra and claims to represent the Marathi-speaking people in the region.
Condemning the incident, Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said, "Is the Karnataka government in the correct frame of mind? It is unfortunate that one state government behaves in this manner against people of a neighbouring state."
"The Karnataka government has violated human rights of those against whom cases have been filed. A case should be filed against that government," she said.
Gorhe sought Centre's immediate intervention over the issue.
Recently, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, in party mouthpiece Saamana had asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to reach out to Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka in the backdrop of the controversial comments made by a minister in the neighbouring state against the chanting of "Jai Maharashtra" slogan there.
Karnataka's Urban Development Minister R Roshan Baig had reportedly said in Belgaum that elected representatives found raising the slogan stand to lose their elected posts in the southern state.
Baig had also allegedly said that the Karnataka government was intending to bring in a new legislation to check "anti-Karnataka activities" by elected representatives.
Both Maharashtra and Karnataka have been involved in a bitter border dispute over Belgaum.