Maharashtra got some relief in its border dispute with Karnataka.
Following a request from the state’s leaders that the Centre should intervene in the matter, the Union government asked a senior official of the National Commission for Linguistic Minorities to visit Belgaum town, which is among the disputed border areas where Marathi-speaking people are unhappy about being included in Karnataka state.
Joint Commissioner of the Linguistic Minorities Commission Shiv Kumar visited Belgaum on Tuesday. He met district collector Dr Ekrup Kaur.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had complained to UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Karnataka government was putting undue pressure on the Marathi population by changing the name of Belgaum city and by convening a legislative session there. The government is enforcing Kannada language and filing false criminal cases against Marathi people, he had alleged.
Marathi-speaking people outnumber Kannadigas in the disputed areas but are in a minority if the eniter population of Karnataka is taken into consideration. A senior Karnataka government officer, who is in the know of the matter said that Shiv Kumar wanted to know if the Marathi population was being provided government documents in its mother tongue. The officer did not wish to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “Kumar also wanted to know whether constitutional rights of the linguistic minority (Marathis) were being violated by the Karnataka government.”
Maharashtra has taken the border dispute to the Supreme Court where it is fighting a case to get the 865 villages in Belgaum, Karwar, Nipani, Gulbarga and a few towns included in Maharashtra. Maharashtra’s argument is based on the restructuring of states which was done on the basis of language 60 years ago. The disputed areas were not included in Maharashtra.
The dispute escalated last week following the Centre’s affidavit that the disputed areas were part of Karnataka. Violent protests were seen in the state and Belgaum-Karwar regions of Karnataka.