Separate north Karnataka flag to be unveiled today

Just a year after an agitation for a Karnataka flag was launched, the Separate State Agitation Committee has said it will unveil a flag for the northern Karnataka region in Belagavi city on Tuesday, pressing its demand for the region’s 13 districts to be carved out into a new state.

Confirming this, Somashekhar Kotambari, president of the committee, told HT that he would do everything required to make the separate state a reality. “For decades we have faced the apathy of governments concerned only with the development of southern Karnataka and have ignored this region. To send out a message that this is a committed agitation, we will unveil a north Karnataka flag,” he said.

The agitation comes in the wake of perceived injustice done to the northern districts in the state budget presented by chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on July 5. Added to that was also the over representation of leaders from the southern districts in the state Cabinet of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government.

Kotambari said the recent events were only the latest triggers and the movement dated back 40 years. “Our movement is against the misrule of governments headed by all three principal parties in the state, including the BJP,” he said.

While Kotambari said that the movement had the support of many seers in the region, Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swamy of Kudala Sangama in Bagalkote district, who backed the movement demanding separate religion status for Lingayats, said: “We have advised them to not unfurl such a flag and stick to highlighting the injustice meted out to the region. As of now, we seers have not yet come to a decision on the separate state demand and, I feel, it is improper at this stage for the activists to take such a step”.

Others in the northern districts, from where the call for state unification originated, too, are not supportive of the separate state demand as well. Chief among them is Bheemappa Gadad, president of the North Karnataka Agitation Committee, who petitioned the state government last year asking for a flag for the state to help further in integration and forming a state identity.

Gadad said he would personally ensure that the unveiling will not happen. “I will be in Belagavi, too, and I will ensure that a separate flag will not be unfurled,” he said. “Our demand is only that the historic injustice meted out to the northern districts be rectified. We do not want a separate state,” he said.

Kotambari’s statement comes days after BJP MLA B Sriramulu first supported the movement, stating that he would lead it, before backtracking and insisting he believed in unified state.

On Monday, state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa, too, criticised the move, suggesting that it was being stoked by the JD(S) and former PM HD Deve Gowda.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 23:38 IST

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