Maharashtra-Karnataka Belgaum tension flares again: How did it start, where does it stand?

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News:Recently,the bus services between Kolhapur and Belgaum were suspended after the decades-old border dispute related to Belgaum between Maharashtra and Karnataka flared up again.

Facts:

About the Belgaum dispute:

  • The dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka over Belgaum and other border areas is a longstanding issue between the two states.
  • The erstwhile Bombay Presidency had included the present-day Karnataka districts of Bijapur, Belgaum, Dharwar and Uttara-Kannada (previously North Kanara).
  • In 1948,the Belgaum municipality requested that the district having a predominantly Marathi-speaking population be incorporated into the proposed Maharashtra state.
  • However,the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 which divided states on linguistic and administrative lines made Belgaum a part of the then Mysore State(which was renamed Karnataka in 1973).

Mahajan Commission:

  • The Maharashtra government contested the inclusion of Belgaum in Karnataka and lodged a protest with the Central Government in September 1957.
  • This led to the formation of the Mahajan Commission under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in October 1966.
  • The commission recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.
  • However, Maharashtra rejected the report and continues to claim over 865 villages along the border as well as Belgaum city which are currently part of Karnataka.