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Records lay bare Maharashtra's demand for Belgaum's transfer

Vijaykumar Patil

There is historical evidence to show that Kannadigas dominated the region, says former MP


  • During the Maratha rule, Marathis settled in Belgaum, Khanapur, Nippani and Karwar
  • As per the 1881 Census, nearly 65 per cent of the population of Belgaum district was `Canarese'

    Belgaum: There is historical evidence to show that areas to which Maharashtra has staked claim have been populated by Kannadigas for centuries, and Marathis are recent settlers, according to former Lok Sabha member A.K. Kotrashetty.

    Speaking to The Hindu in the light of references to the boundary dispute by speakers at the inauguration of the All-India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan on Friday, Mr. Kotrashetty quoted from historical documents and other records and observed that it was only during the Maratha rule that Marathis migrated and settled in Belgaum, Khanapur, Nippani, Karwar and adjoining areas.

    Records show that areas to the south of the Krishna river were inhabited by Kannadigas, he said. Among these records are the Aithihasik Lekha Sangrahas (ALS); the Peshwa Daftars; documents prepared by historians from Maharashtra; Historical sketches of South India by Col. Mark Wilks, who was Resident of Mysore; the History of Marathas by Capt. Duff, who was Resident in the court of the Satara King; the report of Elphinston, then Governor of Bombay; and letters written by Thomas Munro.

    Boundaries

    It is not know whether boundaries were fixed at the time. The Bombay Government was bound to represent the case of Bombay-Karnataka people before the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) as a Karnataka government was not in existence to put forth claims to areas inhabited by Kannadigas.

    Presiding over a Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in Belgaum in 1929, Shivram M. Paranjape analysed the co-relation between linguistic frontiers and political dominance. He pointed out that along with expansion of kingdoms, linguistic frontiers were extended, the English language being the greatest example. "If we consider our own example of Marathi language, the truth of the above maxim becomes evident. Really speaking, Marathi is the language merely of Maharashtra. But today, it is being spoken in Tanjavur, Baroda, Gujarat, Nagpur, Indore, Gwalior, Sagar, and Jhansi." Paranjape said students of linguistics should know that when Dhanaji Jadhav and Santaji Ghopade led their army towards Chandi and Chandavar and imposed their sovereignty in Sandur, Gutti, Tanjore and various other places in the Madras Presidency, they spread their mother tongue.

    Invasion

    The Peshwa Dafter speaks of invasion of Shahpur and Belgaum. In Main Currents of Marathi History, G.S. Sardesai, noted historian from Maharashtra, refers to the Karnataka boundary as the territory to the south of Krishna. It gives a list of forts and fortresses which were in the possession of Peshwa Bajirao II in 1809-10.

    When General Munro became Governor of Madras with Bombay-Karnataka under his administration, he recommended that Maratha influence on areas inhabited by Kannadigas be brought down. By 1822, annexation of the region to the Madras Presidency was complete. The area was under the presidency till 1830. In 1826, the Government of Bombay started fresh correspondence with the Madras Government to take back Bombay-Karnataka from the Madras Presidency.

    Sir Thomas Munro objected to this and wrote to the Bombay Government.

    Under the Bombay Regulation XXIX of 1827, Solapur, Bijapur and Athani were annexed to Poona district. In 1936, Belgaum district was formed. As per the 1881 Census, 64.39 per cent of the population was "Canarese" and 26.4 per cent Marathi.

    Mr. Kotrashetty said historical records show that Belgaum and others areas have been dominated by Kannadigas for centuries.

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