Eyeing Assembly polls, Shiv Sena plays Maratha card; re-ignites Belgaum border issue

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray
It is really distressing that political parties time and again use emotive issues which which could disturb harmony in a region for their political gains. Politicians use such issues to garner votes but little they think about the damages being made to the social fabric in the country. Such is the Belgaum border issue which time and again comes to haunt the locals, thanks to the regional outfits which strive hard to keep the issue alive for political reasons.

Re-igniting the issue, just ahead of Assembly poll in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, in its mouthpiece Saamana, accused Karnataka police of removing a 'Maharashtra Rajya' plaque from a village in Yellur, Belgaum.

The editorial reads, "Karnataka Government's anti-Maharashtra age old stand continues. In 24 hours, not just once but twice the Kannadas have tried to target Maharashtrians symbols. They have indulged in violence."

The current dispute:

A day after Maharashtra State' board was removed by the district administration in Yellur, Belgaum on Friday, hundreds of pro-Marathi activists rebuilt a similar board at the same spot on Saturday. This was again demolished on Sunday by police personnel. Following this, clashes broke out on Sunday when a crowd assembled at the place and started pelting stones at police.

Several people and police personnel were injured in the resulting clashes. The police resorted to a lathi-charge to disperse the mob. Hundreds of police personnel were deployed at the disputed site.

Maha has asked to bring 865 villages including Belgaum under Centre's rule

Prohibitory order under section 144 of the IPC has been promulgated in Belgaum, Khanapur Taluka and Nippani town till July 29.

Belgaum border, decades-old dispute

Belgaum is a disputed region on the borders of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Both the State claims stake to the region. Belgaum is part of Karnataka, despite the majority of residents being Marathi-speaking. Disputes between Marathi-speaking leadership in Belgaum and the Karnataka Government have been frequent. The two sides came at loggerhead in mid-2012, when the Karnataka Government superceded the Belgaum City Municipal Corporation. Following this, the Maharashtra Legislature unanimously passed a resolution against the move and demanded that Belgaum and the surrounding area be placed under Centre's rule until resolution of the dispute in the Supreme Court.

Since the 1960s when the border came out in open, the Maharashtra legislature has passed at least 18 resolutions against the Karnataka Government, terming its actions to crack down upon Marathi-speaking institutes and people illegal and unjust.

The history of five-decade old border dispute:

The erstwhile State of Mysore was joined with parts of Bombay, Hyderabad, Madras to form Karnataka five decades ago under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. In this process, some Marathi-speaking areas were also merged. This further became issue of conflict between Karnataka and Maharashtra.

In October 1966, the Centre constituted Mahajan Committee to look into the border dispute.

The commission, which submitted its report in August 1967, recommended merger of 264 villages in Maharashtra. However, the Commission did not recommend the transfer of Belgaum to Maharashtra, on 'administrative grounds' and holding that there was 'lack of linguistic gravity'.

On 15 March 2006, the Maharashtra Government filed a petition in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution on the question of the transfer of Belgaum to Maharashtra.

On 25 September, 2006, for the first time Karnataka Government convened a five-day Assembly Session in Belgaum to assert its claim over the city.

The Supreme Court began its hearing on Maharashtra's petition on January 17, 2007.

July 7, 2010, Centre files affidavit in Supreme Court nullifying Maharashtra's claim.

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