The decades-old dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra over the Belagavi or as Maharashtra likes to call it the Belgaum district, is back in the headlines. Belgaum or Belagavi is currently part of Karnataka but is claimed by Maharashtra
What are the claims of both states?
- In 1957, unhappy with the demarcation of boundaries, Maharashtra demanded realignment of its border with Karnataka. It invoked Section 21 (2) (b) of the Act, and submitted a petition to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs stating its objection to Marathi-speaking areas included in Karnataka.
- It claimed 814 villages, and three urban settlements of Belagavi, Karwar and Nippani, all part of Mumbai Presidency before independence. A petition by Maharashtra in the Supreme Court, staking a claim over Belagavi, is currently pending.
- Karnataka has consistently argued that inclusion of Belagavi as part of its territory is beyond dispute. It has cited the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the Act and the later Mahajan Commission Report to substantiate its position.
- Karnataka has argued for the inclusion of areas in Kolhapur, Sholapur and Sangli districts (falling under Maharashtra) as its territory.
- In 1960, a four-member committee was formed by both States. The committee could not arrive at a consensus and respective representatives submitted reports to their government.
What were the terms of the Mahajan Commission?
- In 1966, at Maharashtra’s insistence, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi established a one-man commission, the Mahajan Commission (Mehr Chand Mahajan, third Chief Justice of India) a few months before the 1967 general elections and its report was released after the elections. It recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.
- Maharashtra rejected the report, while Karnataka welcomed it. Karnataka argued that either the Mahajan Commission Report should be accepted fully or status quo maintained.
- The middle-class core areas and surroundings of the city are predominantly Kannada-speaking people. But in and around Belagavi a good number of people speak both Marathi and Kannada. Intercommunity marriages between the two linguistic groups exist.