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Maharashtra digs up century-old documents to stake claim for Karnataka border areas

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government has released century-old documents to bolster its claim over 800-odd villages in two Karnataka border districts, Gulbarga and Belgaum.

Maharashtra century-old documents claim Karnataka border areas-VPN
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Mumbai, First Published Jan 29, 2021, 10:02 AM IST
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The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government has released century-old documents to bolster its claim over 800-odd villages in two Karnataka border districts, Gulbarga and Belgaum.

Releasing documents that state that Marathi was one of the most prominent languages along with English and Konkani in Karwar 60 years ago, a note issued by the chief minister's office said, "The first Marathi newspaper, Vichari, was published in 1912 in the area. Besides, signboards of this area were in Marathi and even the reports of various co-operation boards and other government reports in the area were published in Marathi only. There are over 100-125 years old documents that establish how this area belonged to a united Maharashtra."

Karnataka, however, has flatly rejected the claims.

The BS Yediyurappa government has maintained that the villages are an integral part of the state. The government has clearly said that it does not intend to deviate from its stand supporting the 1967 Mahajan Commission report that recommended merger of some villages in Belgaum district in north Karnataka with Maharashtra but rejected the merger of Belgaum.

How did the decades-old issue flare up again?

Karnataka and Maharashtra have been at loggerheads since decades over areas along their border in districts like Belgaum, Karwar and Nipani. The issue of the disputed border area has been pending in the Supreme Court.

On January 17, which is observed as 'martyrs' day' for those who died fighting for the merger of Belgaum and some other border areas with Maharashtra in 1956, a Tweet from Chief Minister's Office reignited the controversy.

The Maharashtra CMO tweeted, "Bringing Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking and cultural areas in Maharashtra will be the true tribute to those who accepted martyrdom in the boundary battle. We are united and committed towards it. Respects to the martyrs with this promise."

Uddhav's Karnataka counterpart rejected the former's statements as 'childish' and 'detrimental to the unity of the country'. Yediyurappa made it clear that there was no question of ceding even 'an inch of land' to Maharashtra. 

The 'Union Territory' suggestion

Uddhav has suggested that the disputed border area between Maharashtra and Karnataka should be made a Union Territory until the matter was decided in the Supreme Court.

Uddhav said, "Ideally, status quo must be maintained in an area under dispute and the case is being heard in the apex court. But Karnataka government has renamed it Belgaum, given it the status of the second capital of the State and holds its Assembly session there. Doesn’t it amount to disrespecting the court?"

"The dispute has been going on for many years. At least till the time, the matter is decided in the Supreme Court, why can't it be made a Union Territory? We do not want the Karnataka government meddling in the day-to-day affairs there,” the chief minister added.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi scoffed at the idea. 

He was quoted by media reports as saying, "Mumbai should be included in Karnataka. Until that is done, I request Central government to declare Mumbai as a Union Territory."

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