With the recent release of the new map of Pakistan, it’s evident that the Pakistani government wants to dig the old graves. Inclusion of the entire Kashmir region was still expected, but the recent change which brought shock to both India and World was the inclusion of Junagadh. Due to the Kashmir issue, the matter of Junagadh took a back seat in the past years.
But with the ongoing border tension with China and Nepal, Pakistan has tried to portray itself as a victim of India’s annexation policy by bringing in the Junagadh issue. Well, not many Indians know that the matter of Junagadh still remains disputed in United Nations along with the Kashmir issue. It was assumed that both countries could resolve it bilaterally.
Now India has strongly resented to all the claims by the Pakistani government. Still, they are trying to make the story of the integration of Junagadh territory a point of controversy.
When entire India was celebrating its independence from 200 years of British rule, all the princely states were asked to choose between India and Pakistan or remain independent.
Most of the princely state got convinced with the idea of merger except a few, and one of them was Nawab of Junagadh. Surprisingly, in May 1947, the Dewanship of the state went into the hands of a Muslim Leaguer from Karachi, Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who had earlier contested in elections and was known to be close aid of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
His importance in Pakistani politics can be assessed by the fact that his son Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went on to become the Prime Minister of the country. Under the influence of Shah Nawaz, the Nawab decided to accede to Pakistan on 15th of August 1947.
After knowing the matter, our the then home minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel issued concern that Pakistan being a Muslim nation can’t annex a state where 80% of the population is Hindu. Interestingly, Somnath, the famous Shiva temple, is located in Junagadh, near the port of Veraval.
After waiting and failing over a month to get a response from Pakistan to an offer by Nehru to respect the majority of the population, India started to put in place a series of measures in September that held the threat of military action against Junagadh, mainly by deploying troops around the state and creating a naval blockade, so that includes from Karachi can be prevented.
Out of fear, the Nawab of Junagadh passed on all the responsibilities to Shah Nawaz and fled to Karachi with his family and valuables. According to the report, he took all the cash balance of the state and all the shares and securities in the Treasury with him and left the state with no money, no food.
After Nawab flew, a parallel government of Junagadh called “Arzi Hukumat” was formed in Mumbai by Sambaldas Gandhi. They began to take over parts of Junagadh. “Mangrol” and “Babariyabad”, small principalities associated with Junagadh declared them independent and decided to join India. Finally, after so many chaoses, breakdown of law and order Shah Nawaz asked for help from the Government of India.
Pakistan termed the annexation as a “direct act of hostility” in front of the World and took the matter to the United Nations. It asked India to renounce charge to the rightful authority and withdraw troops.
India retorted by saying that it had stepped in to restore law and order and curb a complete breakdown of the administration only at the request of Shah Nawaz, the Dewan of Junagadh who was acting on behalf of the Nawab.
India decided to indicated to formalise the annexation through a plebiscite. It was held on the 20th of February,1948. Out of 2,01,457 registered voters, 1,90,870 cast their votes. Only 91 cast their votes in favour of accession to Pakistan. A referendum was also held in five neighbouring territories. If we go by percentage, 99.95% population voted for India.
Sadar Patel visited Junagadh and formally included it as a territory of India on the basis of people’s choice.
Written by – Shilpa dey
Image source: Google