‘Cross-border colonisation leading to annexation’

Supreme Court advocate Rajeev Dhavan weighs in on the Belgaum row between Karnataka and Maharashta, in Mail Today:

“If the Belgaum agitation is taken seriously, India’s federated states will never acquire territorial integrity. The essence of Maharashtra’s claim is that all the border villages in neighbouring Karnataka, where even a bare majority speak Marathi, should be handed over to become a part of Maharashtra.

“Over 60 years, these demands have been accompanied by violence, threats and the emergence of pan- Marathi fundamentalist nationalism…. Maharashtra’s claim rests on four principles: ( i) the villages as a unit, ( ii) geographical contiguity, ( iii) linguistic majority, and ( iv) wishes of the people.

“Shorn of pretences, if Maharashtra’s claim to annex border villages in neighbouring states where there is a Marathi-speaking majority was to be applied as a principle, inter- state border claims would never stop and be resurrected each time border villages show linguistic change. Movements of people across borders would be encouraged and villages colonised to create linguistic majorities to facilitate their annexation. Taken to its illogical conclusion, Indian federalism is invited to permit its States the indulgence of cross- border conquest by linguistic head-count supported by noisy, even violent, politics.”

Read the full article: Jingoism behind Belgaum row

Also read: If Belgaum should go away, how about Bombay?