Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday asked his Maharashtra counterpart Eknath Shinde not to send his cabinet colleagues to the border district of Belagavi, The Hindu reported.

Bommai said that their visit could disturb law and order in the area.

He was referring to a visit by Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai to Belagavi on December 6. They are slated to meet activists from the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, an organisation that has been seeking the merger of about 800 villages with Maharashtra, according to PTI.

The villages are spread across Belagavi district and the north-western and north-eastern regions of Karnataka that border Maharashtra

“It is not right for the Maharashtra ministers to visit Belagavi despite Karnataka Chief Secretary writing to Maharashtra government about it,” Bommai told a group of journalists in Bengaluru. “We have communicated in writing that it is going to create law and order problem.”

The Karnataka chief minister acknowledged that citizens have the freedom to move anywhere in the country, but said that this was not the right time for the ministers to visit the district.

“The state government has certain rights to maintain law and order,” Bommai said. “I have directed the revenue and police officials to take steps that will ensure maintenance of law and order.”

The Karnataka chief minister said that there is harmony among the residents of the two states, and no attempts should be made to disrupt law and order.

Tensions are high in Belagavi because of the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The border dispute dates back to the period between the 1950s and 1960s when the states were formed. Maharashtra claims that 865 villages on the border should have been merged with it, while Karnataka claims 260 villages because it has the majority Kannada-speaking population.

The dispute was renewed after Karnataka Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai claimed that the Jat taluka panchayats in Sangli district had passed a resolution in November to merge with Karnataka when there was a severe drought and acute drinking water crisis. The chief minister said that Karnataka has formulated a plan to help them.