Before the independence of India the princely state of Bhopal was ruled by the hereditary Nawabs. As a result of the Indian Independence Act 1947, the princely states were released from their treaty obligations to the British and were left to decide whether to join one of the new dominions of India and Pakistan. In March 1948, the last Nawab expressed his wish to rule Bhopal as an independent state. However, agitations against his rule broke out in December 1948, leading to the arrest of prominent leaders including Shankar Dayal Sharma. On 23 January 1949, Sharma was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment for violating restrictions on public meetings; some other satyagrahis were also arrested. Later, the political detainees were released and on 30 April 1949 the Nawab signed an Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India. The state of Bhopal was taken over by the Union Government of India on 1 June 1949 and was declared a "Part C" state, to be governed by a Chief Commissioner appointed by the President of India.