Though India attained Independence by 15th August 1947, there were many princely states which are still outside the control of Indian government. One such princely state is the Junagadh state in Gujarat. Though the princely states were given the freedom to choose either Pakistan or India to merge with, Earl Mountbatten suggested considering geographic features to decide before merging.
Developments in Junagadh During the Freedom Struggle
Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, the ruler of the Junagadh states during the time of Independence decided to join Pakistan against the wishes of majority of people who were Hindus. On 15th September 1947 Mahabat joined the Dominion of Pakistan against the suggestion of Mountbatten. Babariawad and Sheikh of Mangrol, who were under Mahabat principality declared independence and joined India against the wishes of Mahabat. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel decided that the decision of merging with Pakistan would bring communal tensions and is also against the Jinnah’s argument that Hindus and Muslims cannot live in one state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the then Governor General of Pakistan accepted the Instrument of Accession on 15 September 1947. V.P Menon, the Secretary of the States department of the Government of India during the time requested the dewan Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto to take back the decision, but it was too late and Government of Pakistan only has the right under international law to give back Junagadh to Pakistan.
Provisional Government: 'Arziee Hukumat' in Junagadh
Menon then met Samaldas Gandhi and developed “Arziee Hukumat" (Provisional Government) in Junagadh. In the meanwhile there were exchanges of correspondence between India and Pakistan, but India finally blocked all borders of Junagadh and finally the Nawab left to Karachi on 25 October 1947. Bhutto, the dewan or Chief Minister sensed the situation and has written letters to Jinnah, the Nawab and Ikramullah, Secretary of the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking help. In return Bhutto got a telegram from Nawab to take a decision in the best interests of the Muslims in the region. After few Junagadh State Council meetings, and finally requested the Indian government to take over the administration of Junagadh. Butto also requested the Indian government to restore peace, law and order in the region and left to Pakistan on 8 November 1947.
There were correspondences exchanged between the Indian and Pakistan government and Indian government already had its forces in place to maintain law and order. After the takeover, the rebels were jailed and later offered to leave to Pakistan but some of them refused. A plebiscite was held on 20 February 1948 and 99% of the populations choose to join India.
Junagadh Becomes a Part of Saurashstra
After the plebiscite Junagadh became part of Saurashstra state which was with it till 1st November 1956 when it became Bombay state. Again in 1960 Bombay state was divided into Maharashtra and Gujarat based on linguistic bases during which Junagadh became a part of Gujarat. Later after being part of Gujarat, Junagadh was later developed as a tourist spot attracting thousands of visitors every day. The Gir forest sanctuary and the historical monuments are the main attractions.