The accession by Junagadh

Junagadh showed Kashmir was not an aberration

Kashmir, Sir Creek and Junagadh are unresolved disputes on the US agenda. Sir Creek separates the Indian state of Gujarat from the Pakistan province of Sindh. India and Pakistan have had fisticuffs many times in this region. Once a skirmish threatened to flare up into a full-fledged Indo-Pak war when then Pakistan’s Army Chief General Musa asked the PAF chief to strafe marching columns of the Indian army. Air Marshal Asghar Khan phoned the Indian Air Force chief. They both agreed not to intervene.

Pakistan did not forcefully agitate the Junagadh issue at the UN. The underlying reason was that India then could have pleaded that Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir was contradictory. It owned the Junagadh accession but disowned the Kashmir accession to India.

- Advertisement -

Sir Creek forms the boundary between the Indian state of Gujarat and the Pakistani province of Sindh. It has been a subject of dispute between the two countries, often leading to clashes between security forces.

When the British were leaving India, there were 565 princely states under the overall suzerainty of the British crown. They were independent, but were given the choice of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent.

The ruler of Junagadh, a princely state at the time of partition, was Muhammad Mahabat Khan Babi III.  Besides Babi, the other influential individual was the dewan, or prime minister, of Junagadh state, Shah Nawaz Bhutto, father of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

By August 14 and 15, nearly all of the princely state monarchs had signed their documents. Those who did not included the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir . Hence the subsequent disputes.

Junagadh had three vassal states. The ruler of Bantva-Manavadar (Manavadar, for short) acceded to Pakistan. But, the rulers of the two other principalities (Mangrol and Babariawad), declared that they would become part of India. They thus unsuccessfully   challenged their sovereign’s choice.

The Indian soldiers who had earlier invaded Kashmir ostensibly to repulse raiders, invaded Junagadh and Manavadar to annex them. Pakistan could not send its forces to Junagadh because of logistical problems. Pakistan has recently unveiled a political map including the additional territory as “Junagadh and Manavadar.”

Indian leaders accepted the UN resolutions willy nilly. At heart, they wanted to annex all the princely states as is obvious for instance from Nehru’s somersaults. Like Nehru, Vallabhai Patel also was not a man of his word. India had lame excuses to invade Kashmir, Junagadh or for that matter any princely state

- Advertisement -

Thus ended the short-lived period of Junagadh belonging to Pakistan. The Nawab and the Dewan fled to Pakistan. On 20 February 1948, a referendum was held in Junagadh (including all of its vassal states) as a ruse to justify the invasion. India’s results showed of 2,01,457 registered voters, 1,90,870 cast their votes for India and Pakistan got only 91 votes. A referendum was also held in five neighbouring territories. Out of 31,434 votes cast in these areas, only 39 were for accession to Pakistan. Pakistan termed it a “farce”. Pakistan never accepted the results of the Junagadh referendum. Nehru promised to hold a similar referendum in Jammu and Kashmir but never did.

India gives the impression that Home Minister Vallabhai Patel was a very reasonable and flexible person. He wanted to barter away the disputed Kashmir to Pakistan in exchange for Junagadh and Hyderabad. But when Pakistan insisted that Junagadh has already acceded to Pakistan, Patel changed his mind; He then decided to annex Junagadh and Hyderabad too.

India says Junagadh was mentioned by Pakistan when the Security Council took up the issue of the hostilities in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir in January 1948. Under the UN Security Council resolution 39, a commission was set up for the “peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict”, and the mandate of this commission was to investigate allegations by India of the situation in J&K, as well as “other issues” raised by Pakistan, which included Junagadh that Pakistan accused India of “annexing and occupying by force”.

At the time of the British withdrawal, there were 565 princely states apart from thousands of zamindari estates and jagirs. In 1947, princely states covered 40 percent of the area of pre-independence India and constituted 23 percent of its population. The most important states had their own British Political Residencies: Hyderabad of the Nizams, Mysore and Travancore in the South followed by Jammu and Kashmir, and Sikkim in the Himalayas, and Indore in Central India.

India annexed all the princely states by hook or by crook, barring the disputed states.

Indian leaders harboured a perfidious wish to annex all the princely states. Take the disputed Kashmir. The puppet Kashmir-governor had to publicly announce that `there were no plans to abrogate Article 35A [and Article 370 about special status]’. But then they repealed not only article 370 but also article 35-A.

In his book India and Pakistan: Neighbours At Odds, Avtar Singh Bhasin quotes several instances of Nehru’s perfidious commitment to promises made on Kashmir.(and by corollary on other princely states). Bhasin tells on the basis of Nehruvian diaries, `Nehru addressed a lengthy letter to him [Sheikh Abdullah] on 25 August 1952 from Sonamarg, where he was then camping. After narrating the events since the accession of the State in October 1947, he went on to assure him of his commitment to the people of the State that the future would be decided by them alone, and if they wanted India to be put out of Kashmir, there would be no hesitation. He wrote, if the people of Kashmir clearly and definitely wish to part company from India, there the matter ends, however we may dislike it or however disadvantageous it may be to India.  If the Constituent Assembly told India to get out of Kashmir, we would get out, because under no circumstances can we remain here against the expressed will of the people.

Nehru banked on so-called Instrument of Accession and its authentication by the ‘Constituent Assembly’. But in a strange volte face, Nehru declared, ‘After consideration of the problem, we are inclined to think that it [plebiscite] should be held under United Nations’ auspices (p. 28 ibid.). He reiterated in New Delhi on 3 November 1951 that ‘we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’. Again, at a press conference on 11 June 1951, he was asked `if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favour of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ he reiterated, `We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question , and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’. He re-emphasised his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi On 3 November 1951. He said ‘we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar as] we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council or the United Nations’.

It is flabbergasting that during the period 1947 to 1952, Nehru kept harping on a commitment to a plebiscite. Then there was a sudden metamorphosis.

Bhasin points out that `there was a perceptible shift in his [Nehru’s] stand on July 24 1952` about the future of the State _ `if the decision of the Security Council was at variance with that of the Constituent Assembly’. Nehru said, `Unless the Security Council functioned under some other Sections of the Charter, it cannot take a decision which is binding upon us unless we agree to it. They are functioning as mediators and a mediator means getting people to agree.’

Indian leaders accepted the UN resolutions willy nilly. At heart, they wanted to annex all the princely states as is obvious for instance from Nehru’s somersaults. Like Nehru, Vallabhai Patel also was not a man of his word. India had lame excuses to invade Kashmir, Junagadh or for that matter any princely state.

Amjed Jaaved
The writer is a freelance journalist, has served in the Pakistan government for 39 years and holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law. He can be reached at [email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

A bridge too far?

AT PENPOINT The inordinate delay in the issuing of the notification of the new DG ISI has meant many things, but one of the most...

Pakistan and the IMF