Integration of Princely States – By Isha
On the eve of Independence and Partition of India in 1947, there existed two India viz.,
The British India was ruled and controlled by the British. The Native India consisted of 565 Native states ruled by native princes. These native states were under the paramountcy of the British.
The Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 recognised the legal right of the princely states of the British paramountcy. Hence, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 not only abolished the British paramountcy over the native states but also divided India into two independent nations viz., Indian Union and Pakistan. Thus the Princely States were given full freedom either to join Indian Union or Pakistan or to remain independent. This status of princely states posed a threat to the very existence of Indian Union.
The Interim Government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru felt it vital to bring all the princely states into the fold of Indian Union in the interests of India’s unity and security. Therefore it set up Home Ministry (5th July 1947) with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as minister in charge and V.P. Menon as the Secretary to deal with the princely states.
The princely states were appealed to join the Indian Union by signing the Instrument of Accession. Lord Mountbatten also advised the princely states to accede to either Indian Union or Pakistan before 15th August, 1947. As a result of the appeal, all the princely states except Junagadh, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Indian Union by 15th August 1947.
Accession of Junagadh, 29th January 1949
Junagadh was a small princely state of Kathiawad district of Gujarat. Its ruler was Muslim and its population were predominantly Hindus. It’s neighbouring states i.e. Baroda and Bhavnagar were also Hindu states. It had no direct territorial link with Pakistan. Inspired by religious sympathy, the Muslim ruler of Junagadh accorded to Pakistan. But the people rose in revolt and protested against the action of the ruler. The situation became grave and the ruler of Junagadh fled to Pakistan.
The Government of India was forced to take over the administration of Junagadh by sending it’s troops. In 1948, a referendum was held and the people of Junagadh favoured accession to India. The merger finally took place on 29th January 1949.
Hyderabad, 23rd November 1949
Hyderabad was a princely state. Like Junagadh it’s ruler was also a Muslim (Nizam) and it’s population were predominantly Hindus. The Hindus constituted 85 percent of the population. The Government of India appealed to Nizam, the ruler of Hyderabad to accede to the Indian Union. Being influenced by the Muslim organization ‘Ittehadul Mussalman’ and it’s leader Kasim Razvi, the Nizam did not respond. In the meanwhile Lord Mountbatten promised some special concessions to the Nizam, if he acceded to the Indian Union. This was also rejected by Nizam. However, he signed a temporary agreement with the Government of India known as Standstill Agreement on 20th November 1947. The Razakars, under the leadership of Razvi committed atrocities on Hindus. The lawlessness in the state became so grave that the government of India had no other alternative except to take police action. The Indian troops headed by General Chaudhary entered Hyderabad on 13th September 1948. Nizam surrendered to the Government of India. At last, he acceded to the Indian Union on 23rd November 1949.
Kashmir was also a big princely state of India. It was ruled over by Hari Singh, a Hindu. But most of its population was Muslim. It was a neighbouring state to Pakistan. In spite of appeals from both the countries, Hari Singh did not join either India or Pakistan but remained independent. In connivance with Pakistan, the Muslim tribesmen of the frontier invaded Kashmir on 22nd October 1947. Soon, they occupied some towns and threatened Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Then the ruler of Kashmir sought help of the government of India. The Government of India informed him that Indian troops could not enter the state, unless he signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ on 26th October 1947. On 27th October 1947, the Indian troops entered Kashmir, checked the Pakistani aggression and drove away the infiltrators. Thus, Kashmir became an integral part of the Indian Union. But Pakistan disputed the accession of Kashmir to Indian Union. Instead of expelling the aggressors the region they occupied one third region of Kashmir on 1st January 1949. As a result, one third of Kashmir was under the occupation of Pakistan and the rest constituted an integral part of the Indian Union. Now it became an issue between the two countries.