A decades-old border dispute between two states – Karnataka and Maharashtra – saw a dramatic escalation this week with violence and vandalism, prompting Union Home Minister Amit Shah to step in.
Here is your 10-point guide to the Maharashtra-Karnataka border row and why it’s back:
With India’s 1956 landmark act to redraw state boundaries and the formation of Maharashtra four years later, certain areas near the state’s southern tip, on the border with Karnataka, found themselves caught in a dispute.
Since its creation on May 1, 1960, Maharashtra has claimed over 800 villages which were given to Karnataka, including Belagavi (then Belgaum), Karwar and Nipani. The southern state, in turn, has refused to part with its territory.
In 1966, a government panel called the Mahajan Commission rebuffed Maharashtra’s claim over Belgaum and proposed a solution, involving an exchange of some areas, that was rejected by the state but welcomed by Karnataka.
Over the next four decades, several attempts to bridge the disagreement failed and in 2004, Maharashtra went to the Supreme Court.
Karnataka countered the move by changing the name of Belgaum to Belagavi and building a second legislature in the district to firm up its claim on the region.
Since then, with the case pending in the Supreme Court, the standoff has simmered between the two states. In 2010, the Congress-led government at the Centre had defended the 1960 arrangement of states.
The dispute has been exploited by politicians on both sides of the border for votes and public opinion. With both states currently governed by the BJP, the party’s top leadership finds itself in a fix to not let the clash get out of hand.
The row sees its latest flare-up after Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, keen to demonstrate his commitment to the state’s causes, appointed two senior ministers to scale up the legal and political fight two weeks ago.
Next, both governments announced moves to woo the population in the disputed areas and leaders began ramping up provocative rhetoric. As tension grew, the two Maharashtra ministers dropped a visit to Belgavi.
On Tuesdayand Wednesday, buses from both states were attacked and defaced with paint in Karnataka’s Belagavi and Maharashtra’s Pune by stone-throwing political cadres, prompting Union Home Minister Amit Shah to call a meeting with the Chief Ministers of both states next week.
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