Annexation of Junagadh

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Location of Junagarh State in Saurashtra, among all the princely states shown in pink.

Junagarh was a princely state of British India, located in what is now Gujarat, outside but under the suzerainty of British India.

In the independence and partition of British India of 1947, the 552 princely states were given a choice to either join the new Dominion of India or the newly formed state of Pakistan.

The Nawab of Junagarh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, a Muslim whose ancestors had ruled Junagarh and small principalities for some two hundred years, decided that Junagarh should become part of Pakistan, much to the displeasure of many of the people of the state, an overwhelming majority of whom were Hindus. The Nawab acceded to the Dominion of Pakistan on 15 September 1947, against the advice of Lord Mountbatten, arguing that Junagarh joined Pakistan by sea.[citation needed] The principality of Babariawad and Sheikh of Mangrol reacted by claiming independence from Junagarh and accession to India,[1] although the Sheikh of Mangrol withdrew his accession to India the very next day.[2] When Pakistan accepted the Nawab's Instrument of Accession on 16 September, the Government of India was outraged that Muhammad Ali Jinnah could accept the accession of Junagarh despite his argument that Hindus and Muslims could not live as one nation. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel believed that if Junagarh was permitted to go to Pakistan, it would exacerbate the communal tension already simmering in Gujarat.

The princely state was surrounded on all of its land borders by India, with an outlet onto the Arabian Sea. The unsettled conditions in Junagarh had led to a cessation of all trade with India and the food position became precarious. With the region in crisis, the Nawab, fearing for his life, felt forced to flee to Karachi with his family and his followers, and there he established a provisional government.

Vallabhbhai Patel offered Pakistan time to reverse its acceptance of the accession and to hold a plebiscite in Junagarh. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile, the Aarzi Hukumat (in Urdu: Aarzi: Temporary, Hukumat: Government) of the people of Junagarh. Eventually, Patel ordered the forcible annexation of Junagarh's three principalities. Junagarh's state government, facing financial collapse and lacking forces with which to resist Indian force, invited the Government of India to take control. A plebiscite was conducted in December, in which approximately 99.95% of the people chose India over Pakistan.[3]

Scholars have observed that India annexed Junagarh through force[4][5][6][7] with scholars viewing the annexation as part of a wider programme by the Indian state of forcing or bullying the rulers of princely states to accede.[8][9]


After the announcement by the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, on 3 June 1947, of the intention to partition British India, the British parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947 on 11 July 1947. As a result, the native states were left with these choices: to accede to either of the two new dominions, India or Pakistan or to remain an independent state.

The constitutional adviser to the Nawab of Junagarh, Nabi Baksh, and Junagarh's ministers gave the impression to Mountbatten that Junagarh intended to accede to India.[10] However, Muslim League politicians from Sindh soon joined Junagarh's executive council and under the influence of the Muslim League the Nawab decided to accede his state to Pakistan,[11][12][13] in disregard of Mountbatten's contiguity principle.[14] In theory this was permissible for Junagarh. Mountbatten's contention was that only states bordering Pakistan should accede with it.[15]

The Indian Government made efforts to persuade Nawab Sahab of Junagarh to accede to India, but he remained firm. The Indian minister V. P. Menon came to request an accession to India, threatening consequences in case of denial. The Nawab however decided to accede to Pakistan, and an announcement to this effect was made in the gazette (Dastrural Amal Sarkar Junagarh) on 15 August 1947.[16][failed verification]

Instrument of accession[edit]

Mountbatten and A. N. Nangar both agreed that the issue of geographical contiguity had no legal standing and that Junagarh's accession to Pakistan was strictly and legally correct. But Sardar Patel demanded that the matter of the state's accession should be decided by its people instead of the ruler.[17] Nehru laid out India's position which was that India did not accept Junagarh's accession to Pakistan.[18]

Later at the United Nations Security Council, India's argument revolved around the wishes of the people which it accused the Nawab of ignoring. India's representative at the UNSC was also advised to avoid legalistic arguments about the Instrument of Accession because of the effect it could have on Kashmir.[19]

Provisional government (Aarzee Hukumat)[edit]

Upon Menon's advice[20] Mahatma Gandhi's nephew, Samaldas Gandhi, created a provisional government in Bombay with the Indian government's backing.[21][22] This government received support from the 'Gujarat States Organisation' and also received sponsorship from the Kathiawar Political Conference's Praja Mandal movement.[23][20][a]

India allowed the provisional government to take control over outlying areas of Junagarh.[27][21] However, India later at the UNSC denied ever having supported the provisional government.[28][29] Pakistan objected to India's indifference to the actions of Junagarh's provisional government.[30] Nehru wrote to Pakistan that the provisional government was "a spontaneous expression of popular resentment" to the state's accession to Pakistan by Junagarh's local population. However, India did not reveal Menon's role in establishing Junagarh's provisional government.[31]

Blockade and Indian annexation[edit]

To force the Nawab of Junagarh to change his decision, India thrust a blockade upon the state.[28][21] India later denied ever having blocked Junagarh's supplies.[29] The blockade compelled the state's ruler to leave for Pakistan,[32] who left the state's administration to Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto. Menon claimed that the Nawab had delegated the state's destiny to Bhutto, which is implausible because the Nawab had acceded the state's defence and external affairs to Pakistan beforehand. Bhutto requested the regional commissioner for administrative assistance "pending an honourable setlement of the several issues involved in Junagadh's accession." Thus, by 9 November 1947, the Indian Government assumed the state's administration using the "pretext" of re-establishing peace.[33]

Nehru telegrammed Liaquat Ali Khan:

In view of special circumstances pointed out by Junagadh Dewan that is the Prime Minister of Junagadh – our Regional Commissioner at Rajkot has taken temporarily charge of Junagadh administration. This has been done to avoid disorder and resulting chaos. We have, however, no desire to continue this arrangement and wish to find a speedy solution in accordance with the wishes of the people of Junagadh. We have pointed out to you previously that final decision should be made by means of referendum or plebiscite. We would be glad to discuss this question and allied matters affecting Junagadh with representatives of your Government at the earliest possible moment convenient to you. We propose to invite Nawab of Junagadh to send his representatives to this conference.[34]

Liaquat Ali Khan replied:

Your telegram informing that your Government had taken charge of Junagadh was received by me on November 10, 1947. Your action in taking over State Administration and sending Indian troops to state without any authority from Pakistan Government and indeed without our knowledge, is a clear violation of Pakistan territory and breach of International law.[35]

Reports arrived of widespread murder, rape and looting of Muslims in Junagarh following the arrival of Indian troops.[36] Many Muslims from Junagarh began migrating to Pakistan.[37]

After India assumed administration in Junagarh, India's Ministry of Law stated that the accession of Junagarh to Pakistan had not been invalidated by plebiscite and that Junagarh had not yet acceded to India. But India went ahead with the referendum because it believed the result would be in its favour.[38]


On 24 September, legal adviser Monckton told Mountbatten that Pakistan's consent would be needed for any plebiscite India wished to conduct in Junagarh because of the Nawab's accession to Pakistan.[39]

Nehru had shifted from his earlier position of allowing a plebiscite under the UN and now said that it was unnecessary for a plebiscite to be held under the UN though it could send one or two observers if it wished to do so. However, India also made it clear that it would not under any circumstances postpone the plebiscite so as to allow the UN or Pakistan to send observers.[40] A plebiscite was held on 20 February 1948, in which all but 91 out of 190,870 who voted (from an electorate of 201,457) voted to join India, i.e. 99.95% of the population voted to join India.[41]

Douglas Brown of the Daily Telegraph as well as Pakistani newspaper Dawn expressed concerns about the propriety of the plebiscite's arrangement. On 26 February, Pakistan termed India's proceeding with the plebiscite a 'discourtesy to Pakistan and the Security Council'.[42] In the plebiscite India polled 222,184 votes and Pakistan 130 out of a total population of 720,000 of Junagarh and its feudatories.[42]

Only 15 percent (21,606) of Junagarh's Muslim population voted while 30 percent (179,851) of the non-Muslim population voted. The total number of voters on electoral rolls was 200, 569 and less than 10,000 Muslims voted for India.[42] In Manvadar, 276 out of 520 Muslims voted for India, in Bantwa 19 out of 39 and 79 out of 231 in Sardargarh. In Bantwa and Babariawad the number of voters who cast their votes in India's favour was less than the number of non-Muslim voters there, which meant that even some non-Muslims did not vote for India.[42] According to scholar Rakesh Ankit India took liberties with facts and laws as it acted as the "judge, jury and executioner" of the entire situation.[43]

Later arrangements[edit]

Junagarh became part of the Indian Saurashtra State until 1 November 1956, when Saurashtra became part of Bombay State. Bombay State was split into the linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960, and Junagarh is now one of the modern districts of Saurasthra in Gujarat.

Pakistan brought the case of Junagarh to the United Nations in January 1948. The UN Security Council commanded its commission on Kashmir to examine the conflict over Junagarh.[21] The Kashmir conflict eclipsed the matter of Junagarh at the United Nations Security Council,[44] where Junagarh's case is still unresolved.[21][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Kathiawar Political Conference (Kathiawar Rajkiya Parishad) was established in 1921 to coordinate the peoples' movements in the princely states of Kathiawar.[24] Its goal was to achieve some participation of the states' subjects in the governance.[25] It became a member of the All India States Peoples' Conference when it was founded in 1927, and remained so until its dissolution in April 1948, after which it merged with the Indian National Congress.[26]


  1. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India 2010, pp. 35, 38.
  2. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair (2015, p. 113); Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India (2010, p. 38); Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 377)
  3. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (1991). Patel: A Life. India: Navajivan. p. 438. ASIN B0006EYQ0A.
  4. ^ Sumit Ganguly; Larry Diamond; Marc F. Plattner (13 August 2007). The State of India's Democracy. JHU Press. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-0-8018-8791-8.
  5. ^ Lorne J. Kavic (1967). India's Quest for Security: Defence Policies, 1947-1965. University of California Press. pp. 32–. GGKEY:FN05HYT73UF.
  6. ^ Stephen P. Cohen (28 May 2013). Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum. Brookings Institution Press. pp. 4–. ISBN 978-0-8157-2187-1.
  7. ^ Francis Pike (28 February 2011). Empires at War: A Short History of Modern Asia Since World War II. I.B.Tauris. pp. 347–. ISBN 978-0-85773-029-9.
  8. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016)
  9. ^ Ian Talbot (28 January 2016). A History of Modern South Asia: Politics, States, Diasporas. Yale University Press. pp. 136–. ISBN 978-0-300-21659-2. Accession was made more difficult in cases like Hyderabad, Junagadh...Patel and V.P. Menon bullied rulers to accede
  10. ^ Banerji, Arun (2007). "Border". Aspects of India's International Relations, 1700 to 2000: South Asia and the World. Pearson Education India. p. 206. The decision on Junagadh's accession to Pakistan was announced on 15 August.
  11. ^ Banerji, Arun (2007). "Borders". Aspects of India's International Relations, 1700 to 2000: South Asia and the World. Pearson Education India. p. 207.
  12. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 374.
  13. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 108.
  14. ^ Copland, The Princes of India 1997, p. 260.
  15. ^ Copland, The Princes of India 1997, p. 260, footnote 120.
  16. ^ Yagnik, Shaping of Modern Gujarat 2005, p. 222.
  17. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 381): While Ayyangar and Mountbatten concurred that Junagarh's geographical contiguity could not have 'any standing in law', that is, it was 'strictly and legally correct' for it to have joined Pakistan, Patel retorted by arguing that people of a state should decide and not its ruler.
  18. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 383.
  19. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401): Ayyangar reminded to Vellodi on 24 February the need 'as far as possible to avoid being drawn into legalistic arguments as regards validity of Junagadh's accession to Pakistan' for its impact on Kashmir.
  20. ^ a b Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 381.
  21. ^ a b c d e McLeod, John (1996), "Junagadh", in James Stuart Olson; Robert Shadle (eds.), Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 613, ISBN 978-0-313-29366-5
  22. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 112: "The second tactic was the Arzi Hukumat (provisional government), which was set up under the leadership of Samaldas Gandhi, a nephew of Mahatma Gandhi, under the auspices of the Government of India in Bombay [sic]."
  23. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India 2010, pp. 39-40.
  24. ^ McLeod, Sovereignty, Power, Control 1999, pp. 37–38.
  25. ^ Ramusack, Congress and the People's Movement in Princely India 1988, p. 381.
  26. ^ Ramusack, Congress and the People's Movement in Princely India 1988, p. 395.
  27. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 384): Finally, New Delhi agreed to the provisional government taking over administration in the outlying pockets of the state.
  28. ^ a b Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 112.
  29. ^ a b Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401): "It continued to claim that New Delhi had given 'no support at all to the so-called provisional government' and even denied stopping supplies to Junagadh."
  30. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 386): In response, Karachi protested against New Delhi's 'indifference' to the provisional government of Junagadh and its activities.
  31. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 384-385)
  32. ^ Copland, The Princes of India 1997, p. 261-262.
  33. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 117.
  34. ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal (1949), Independence and after: a collection of the more important speeches, from September 1946 to May 1949, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
  35. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 118.
  36. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 397)
  37. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 396)
  38. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 395): A note by Ministry of Law made it clear that Junagadh's accession to Pakistan had not been nullified by referendum and the state had not acceded to India yet. However, New Delhi went ahead because 'it was almost likely that the referendum will be in our favour'.
  39. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 380): "So far so good, but Monckton had also informed Mountbatten that as Junagadh had signed an instrument of accession to Pakistan...Pakistan's recognition of any plebiscite that India may conduct had to be obtained."
  40. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401)
  41. ^ Noorani, A. G. (13 October 2001), "Of Jinnah and Junagadh", Frontline
  42. ^ a b c d Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 402)
  43. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 403.
  44. ^ Lesley G. Terris (8 December 2016). Mediation of International Conflicts: A Rational Model. Taylor & Francis. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-315-46776-4.
  45. ^ Pande, Explaining Pakistan’s Foreign Policy 2011, p. 18.


Further reading[edit]