Annexation of Junagadh

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

Junagadh 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 Junagadh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, a Muslim whose ancestors had ruled Junagadh and small principalities for some two hundred years, decided that Junagadh 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 Junagadh joined Pakistan by sea.[1] The principality of Babariawad and Sheikh of Mangrol reacted by claiming independence from Junagadh and accession to India,[2] although the Sheikh of Mangrol withdrew his accession to India the very next day.[3] 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 Junagadh despite his argument that Hindus and Muslims could not live as one nation. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel believed that if Junagadh 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 Junagadh 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 Junagadh. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile, the Aarzi Hukumat (in Urdu: Aarzi: Temporary, Hukumat: Government) of the people of Junagadh. Eventually, Patel ordered the forcible annexation of Junagadh's three principalities. Junagadh'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.[4]

Scholars have observed that India annexed Junagadh through force [5][6][7][8] with scholars viewing the annexation as part of a wider program by the Indian state of forcing or bullying the rulers of princely states to accede.[9][10]


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, the Union of India or the Dominion of Pakistan.

The constitutional adviser to the Nawab of Junagadh, Nabi Baksh, and Junagadh's ministers gave the impression to Mountbatten that Junagadh intended to accede to India.[11] However, Muslim League politicians from Sindh soon joined Junagadh's executive council and under the influence of the Muslim League the Nawab decided to accede his state to Pakistan.[12][13]

The Indian Government made efforts to persuade Nawab Sahab of Junagadh 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 of Junagadh (Dastrural Amal Sarkar Junagadh) on 15 August 1947.[14][not in citation given]

Instrument of accession[edit]

Immediately after making the announcement in Dastrural Amal Sarkar Junagadh, the Jungadh government communicated to Pakistan its wish to accede, and a delegation headed by Ismail was sent to Karachi with the Instrument of Accession signed by the Nawab. The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan considered the proposal in detail and approved it. The Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as Governor General of Pakistan, counter-signed the Instrument of Accession on 15 September 1947. This was notified in the Gazette of Pakistan and Dasturul Amal, the Gazette of Junagadh, on that date.

The Instrument of Accession provided for the right of the Pakistan legislature to legislate in the areas of Defence and Communication, as well as others.

Although the territory of Junagadh was geographically not adjoining the existing Pakistan, it had a link by sea through the Veraval Port of Junagadh.

Mountbatten and Aynnangar both agreed that the issue of geographical contiguity had no legal standing and that Junagadh's accession to Pakistan was strictly and legally correct. But Sardar Patel demanded that the matter of accession should be decided by the people of the state and not its ruler.[15] Nehru laid out India's position which was that India did not accept Junagadh's accession to Pakistan.[16]

Later at the United Nations Security Council, India's argument revolved around the wishes of the people which it charged the Nawab had ignored. India's representative at the UNSC was also advised to avoid legalistic arguments about the Instrument of Accession because of the impact it could have on Kashmir.[17]

Menon's reaction[edit]

V. P. Menon, the Secretary of the States department of the Government of India, travelled to Junagadh on 17 September 1947 and met Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the dewan (or Chief Minister) of Junagadh. Menon said he had brought a message from the Indian Government and wished to deliver it to the Nawab in person. Bhutto said he could not arrange a meeting with the Nawab as he was not feeling well. Menon expressed displeasure, but conveyed the message of the Indian Government to Bhutto, insisting that Junagadh should withdraw its accession to Pakistan. Bhutto told Menon that the accession was now complete and that according to international law only the Government of Pakistan was responsible.[citation needed]

At Menon's suggestion Samaldas Gandhi, nephew of Mahatma Gandhi, formed a provisional government of Junagadh in Bombay. This provisional government received the sponsorship of the All India States Peoples' Conference's Praja Mandal movement and had the support of the Bombay-based 'Gujarat States Organisation', led by the Maharaja of Lunawada.[18][19]

On 24 September 1947, Mohandas K. Gandhi condemned the action of the Junagadh government in a prayer meeting held at Delhi.[citation needed]

Provisional government (Aarzee Hukumat)[edit]

India allowed the provisional government to take control over outlying areas of the Junagadh state.[20][19] However, India later at the UNSC denied ever having supported the provisional government.[21] Pakistan also protested against India's indifference to the activities of the provisional government of Junagadh.[22] Nehru wrote to Pakistan that the provisional government was a spontaneous expression of popular resistance to the state's accession to Pakistan by Junagadh's local population. However, India did not reveal Menon's role in the formation of the provisional government.[23]

In the meanwhile, there were exchanges between the governments of India and Pakistan. Pakistan told the Indian Government that the accession was in accordance with the Scheme of Independence announced by the outgoing British and that Junagadh was now part of Pakistan. While this exchange of correspondence was going on, India closed all its borders to Junagadh and stopped the movement of goods, transport and postal articles. To force the Nawab of Junagadh to change his decision, India imposed a blockade on the state.[24]

India later denied ever having stopped supplies to Junagadh.[21] In view of worsening situation, the Nawab and his family left Junagadh and arrived in Karachi on 25 October 1947.[citation needed] On 27 October 1947, Bhutto, as Chief Minister of Junagadh, wrote a letter to Jinnah explaining the critical situation of the State government. As the situation worsened, he wrote again on 28 October 1947 to Ikramullah, Secretary of the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, seeking help and directions.[citation needed]

When all hopes for assistance from Pakistan were lost, Bhutto wrote by telegram on 1 November 1947 to Nawab Saheb at Karachi, explaining the situation and the danger to life and property, considering an armed attack was imminent. In a return telegram, the Nawab authorised Bhutto to act in the best interests of the Muslim population of Junagadh.[25][not in citation given]

A meeting of the Junagadh State Council was called on 5 November to discuss the critical situation. The Council authorised Bhutto to take appropriate action. He sent Captain Harvey Johnson, a senior member of the Council of Ministers, to Rajkot to meet Indian officials.[25][not in citation given]

Another meeting of the Junagadh State Council was convened on 7 November, and some prominent citizens of Junagadh state were also invited. The meeting continued till 3 o'clock in the morning and decided that instead of surrendering to the "Provisional Government", the Indian Government should be requested to take over the administration of Junagadh to protect the lives of its citizens, which were being threatened by Provisional Government forces.[citation needed]

On 8 November, Bhutto sent a letter to Nilam Butch, Provincial Head of the Indian Government in Rajkot, requesting him to help to restore law and order in Junagadh to prevent bloodshed. Harvey Johnson took the message to Rajkot. The head of the Indian administration telephoned V. P. Menon in Delhi and read out the letter. Menon immediately rushed to see Jawaharlal Nehru and explained the situation. After consultation with Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the home minister and other ministers, a formal order was drafted and a notification issued announcing the take-over of Junagadh at the request of its Chief Minister. The notification promised a referendum in due course.[citation needed]

Bhutto left Junagadh for Karachi on the night of 8 November 1947.[25] On 9 November, the Indian Air Force flew several sorties at low level over Junagadh.[citation needed]

Invasion by Indian forces[edit]

Soon columns of Indian tanks and other vehicles carrying Indian soldiers entered Junagadh state, led by Brig. Gurdial Singh, commander of the Kathiawar defense force. The States of Nawanagar, Bhavnagar and Porbander had agreed to the request to place their State forces under the command of Gurdial Singh. All these forces were suitably deployed, their movements and manoeuvres creating a steadying effect all over Kathiawar. The Army Commander had strict orders not to violate Junagadh territory in any way. At 6 p.m. on 9 November, Captain Harvey Johnson and Chief Secretary Gheewala, a civil servant of Junagadh state, formally handed over the charge of the State to the Indian Government.[citation needed]

On the same day, Nehru sent a telegram to Liaquat Ali Khan about the Indian take-over of Junagadh. Khan sent a return telegram to Nehru stating that Junagadh was Pakistani territory, and nobody except the Pakistan government was authorised to invite anybody to Junagadh. He also accused the Indian Government of naked aggression on Pakistan's territory and of violating international law. The Government of Pakistan strongly opposed the Indian occupation. Nehru wrote:

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.[26]

The Government of Pakistan protested, saying that the accession of the state to Pakistan was already accepted. In reply to the above telegram, the Prime Minister of Pakistan sent the following:

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. Indian Government’s activities on accession of Junagadh to Pakistan have all been directed to force the State to renounce accession and all kinds of weapons have been used by you to achieve this end. We consider your action in taking charge of Junagadh Administration and sending Indian troops to occupy Junagadh to be a direct act of hostility against Pakistan Dominion. We demand that you should immediately withdraw your forces, and relinquish charge of administration to the rightful ruler and stop people of Union of India from invading Junagadh and committing acts of violence.[citation needed]

This was the followed by a Press Statement made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. It was communicated to Prime Minister of India on 16 November 1947 and read as follows:

In spite of the gravest provocation, we have refrained from any action which should result in armed conflict. We could with full justification and legal right could have sent our forces to Junagadh but at no time since the accession of state, was a single soldier sent by us to Junagadh and our advice throughout to the State Authorities was to exercise the greatest restraint. Manavadar, another State which had acceded to Pakistan and Mangrol and Babariawad have also been occupied by Indian troops.[citation needed]

Immediately after the take-over of the state, all rebel Muslim officials of the state were put behind bars.[27][page needed] They included Ismail Abrehani, a senior minister in the Junagadh government, who had taken the instrument of Accession to Jinnah for his signature. Abrehani refused to leave Junagadh, even when he was offered in jail the option of going to Pakistan, saying that despite its occupation Junagadh was part of Pakistan according to international law and he preferred to remain. He stayed and later died in Junagadh.[27][page needed]

Reports arrived of widespread murder, rape and looting of Muslims in Junagadh following the arrival of Indian troops.[28] Many Muslims from Junagadh began migrating to Pakistan.[29]

After India assumed administration in Junagadh, India's Ministry of Law made it clear that Junagadh's accession to Pakistan had not been nullified by referendum and that Junagadh had not acceded to India yet. But India went ahead with the referendum because it believed the result would be in its favour.[30]


On 24 September, legal adviser Monckton had informed Mountbatten that Pakistan's consent would be needed for any plebiscite India wished to conduct in Junagadh since the Nawab of Junagadh had signed an instrument of accession to Pakistan.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

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'.[34]

In the plebiscite India polled 222,184 votes and Pakistan 130 out of a total population of 720,000 of Junagadh and its feudatories.[34]

Only 15 percent (21,606) of Junagadh'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.[34]

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.[34]

According to scholar Rakesh Ankit India took liberties with facts and laws as it acted as the judge, jury and executioner of the whole plebiscite.[35]

Later arrangements[edit]

Junagadh 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 Junagadh is now one of the modern districts of Saurasthra in Gujarat.

The Kashmir conflict eclipsed the matter of Junagadh at the United Nations Security Council,[36] where Pakistan's complaint against India over Junagadh is still pending.[37][38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History introduction at "On September 15, 1947, Nawab Mohammad Mahabat Khanji III of Junagadh, a princely state located on the south-western end of Gujarat and having no common border with Pakistan, chose to accede to Pakistan ignoring Mountbatten's views, arguing that Junagadh adjoined Pakistan by sea. The rulers of two states that were subject to the suzerainty of Junagadh Mangrol and Babariawad reacted by declaring their independence from Junagadh and acceding to India."
  2. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India 2010, pp. 35, 38.
  3. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India (2010, p. 38); Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 377)
  4. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (1991). Patel: A Life. India: Navajivan. p. 438. ASIN B0006EYQ0A. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Lorne J. Kavic (1967). India's Quest for Security: Defence Policies, 1947-1965. University of California Press. pp. 32–. GGKEY:FN05HYT73UF. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016): The mobilisation of Indian defence forces in the lead up to the accession of Junagadh in November 1947 and the management of violence directed at Junagadh's Muslims afterwards are yet another instance of the forcible incorporation of Indian princely states and Indian Muslims into the reconstructed post-colonial state.
  10. ^ 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, isolated on the tip of the Kathiawar peninsula, and Jammu and Kashmir, where the ruler came from a different religious community from the majority of his subjects. These states' eventual incorporation in India resulted in bitter recriminations. There was armed conflict between India and Pakistan in the case of Jammu and Kashmir. Mountbatten charmed, while Patel and V.P. Menon bullied rulers to accede 
  11. ^ 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. It was contrary to the impression given by Nabi Baksh, the Nawab's constitutional adviser, during the latter's separate meetings with Lord Mountbatten and Sardar Patel in July. 
  12. ^ Banerji, Arun (2007). "Borders". Aspects of India's International Relations, 1700 to 2000: South Asia and the World. Pearson Education India. p. 207. Although paying lip service to the cause of a self contained group of Kathiawar States, the Nawab of Junagadh under the influence of the Muslim League, was planning to join Pakistan. 
  13. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 374)
  14. ^ Yagnik, Shaping of Modern Gujarat 2005, p. 222.
  15. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 381): While Ayyangar and Mountbatten concurred that Junagadh'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.
  16. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 383)
  17. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401): Vellodi's prepared reply to Zafrulla, after going over the familiar terrain of legal accession, geographical contiguity and people's wish, charged the Nawab of disregarding the latter and focussed on Mangrol and Babariawad. 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.
  18. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 381): Suggested by Menon and sponsored by the All India States Peoples' Conference's Praja Mandal movement, this self-styled government led by Samaldas Gandhi, a nephew of the Mahatma, was seeking to move to Rajkot and other pockets of Junagadh territory on the outskirts. It was supported by a 'Gujarat States Organisation', led by the Maharaja of Lunawada, which too was based in Bombay
  19. ^ a b McLeod, John (1996). Junagadh. Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, Volume 1. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 613. At the end of September, Samaldas Gandhi (nephew of Mohandas Gandhi) set up a provisional government under Indian auspices, which assumed control of outlying parts of the state. 
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 384-385)
  24. ^ Mcleod, John. Junagadh. Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, Volume 1. p. 614. In order to compel Mahabatkhanji to reverse his accession, India sent troops to the surrounding states and imposed a blockade 
  25. ^ a b c Yagnik, Shaping of Modern Gujarat 2005, p. 223.
  26. ^ 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 
  27. ^ a b Yagnik, Shaping of Modern Gujarat 2005.
  28. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 397): A group of Muslims from Junagadh represented the second type of voices in protest and far more important than Owen because their account puts an unflattering light on the secular claims of the early Indian state. They wrote to Mountbatten and Nehru on 30 November 1947 complaining about the loot, plunder, rape and murder in the state especially at Kutiyana following the entrance of the Indian troops notwithstanding the assurances given by Patel in his visit to Junagadh.
  29. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 396): Daily reports from 12 to 25 January 1948 confirm that Muslim families were leaving Junagadh in considerable numbers with most embarking from Veraval for Karachi.
  30. ^ 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'.
  31. ^ 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, there was no military means of annulling this and Pakistan's recognition of any plebiscite that India may conduct had to be obtained.
  32. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401)
  33. ^ Noorani, A. G. (13 October 2001), "Of Jinnah and Junagadh", Frontline 
  34. ^ a b c d Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 402)
  35. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 403): third, the haste with which a plebiscite was arranged making India the judge, jury and executioner of the whole case.
  36. ^ Lesley G. Terris (8 December 2016). Mediation of International Conflicts: A Rational Model. Taylor & Francis. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-315-46776-4. 
  37. ^ Aparna Pande (16 March 2011). Explaining Pakistan's Foreign Policy: Escaping India. Taylor & Francis. pp. 31–. ISBN 978-1-136-81893-6. 
  38. ^ McLeod, John (2006). Junagadh. Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, Volume 1. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 613. In June 1948, the Security Council ordered that the dispute be studied by the commission it had already appointed to deal with the Kashmir crisis. The commission, however, reported only on Kashmir; the Junagadh question therefore remains on the agenda of the Security Council, and Pakistan still claims Junagadh, Bantwa, Manavadar, and Sardargarh. 


  • Yagnik, Achyut (2005), Shaping of Modern Gujarat, Penguin UK, ISBN 8184751850 

Further reading[edit]