British India during the time of independence was divided into small or big 565 princely states. These princely states were ruled by Britishers indirectly, some were having their army, own police, currency and, they accepted the British rules by themselves called British paramountcy.
It is the story of the integration of these 565 princely states into one nation that is called India. This story is very important and, interesting to know, and challenging also for the leaders. When Mr. Jinnah was trying to make Pakistan as big as possible and even some of the princely states were also willing to stay independent. Let’s have a look:
The story starts on 3 June 1947, with an important phase of Indian history when India’s last British Governor-General Lord Louis Mountbatten was going to visit Delhi’s All India Radio, along with Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Baldev Singh (leader of Sikhs), and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. (leader of Muslim league, who was asking a separate nation for Muslims) And He announced that “My first course, in all my discussions, was, therefore, to urge the political leaders to accept unreservedly the Cabinet mission plan of May 16, 1946. In my opinion, that plan provides the best arrangement that can be devised to meet the interests of all the communities of India. To my great regret, it has been impossible to obtain an agreement either on the Cabinet mission plan or on any other plan that would preserve the unity of India. But there can be no question of coercing any large areas in which one community has a majority to live against their will under a Government in which another community has a majority—and the only alternative to coercion is partition.“
And as Congress was agreed to the plan with no other option, Jawahar Lal Nehru announced the partition… “I am not happy to accept the plan of India’s partition, but now I am not doubtful also that we only have this path, we all will be grate that India’s part is separated with its own will, but by my farsightedness, I could see today’s decision to be true…” The plan all are talking about was the “Mountbatten Plan,” this plan had disturbed many who were not keen on a separated India.
Just after one day, On 4 June 1947 Lord Mountbatten called a press conference, in the Legislative assembly of that time and today’s parliament, and for that day Mountbatten had late-night mock drills. The day was important for everyone, approximately 300 journalists from all over the world were waiting to ask questions from Mountbatten related to the future of India. In this conference, Mountbatten said “I sincerely mean it when I say power will be transferred completely by 1947, the date of power by Britain in India would be around August 1947. I have already bought my steamer ticket for august 15, so this will be the date of transfer.”
That was surprising, as earlier British were going to leave India around June 1948. However, Mountbatten announced that the day is just 72 days ahead on 15 August. The freedom was certain, but this date came with two big tension in fount of leaders of Congress, first is how to control the increasing communal riots in the country and the other was that how many countries are becoming independent one, two or 565 the reason for the same was “lapse of paramountcy.” After the British, the princely states were independent to decide their future.
Treaty singed between Indian states and Britishers says:
It was the treaty between two sovereign states, a treaty between two heads of states and it was the treaty of friendship that both will respect each other and not interfere in each other’s administration and British guarantee peace between Indian states.
And the act of independence said that “our treaty rights with Indian state are hereby terminated and Indian status will be sovereign again.” That divided the country into many pieces, which could be advantageous to Mr. Jinnah, as he was instigating princely states for uprisings to make India weaker. (by saying every princely state could decide its future)
Lord Mountbatten was the man of the future and was worried about how the coming generations will think of him, every nook of the country was wet with blood (only in Kolkata 5000 were killed) and he was aware of his contribution to the riots. And both countries were becoming independent and future relations need to be ensured. B. P. Menon was the advisor of Mountbatten, suggested him to help in the integration of princely states, to control the spread of riots to princely states. Mountbatten was suspicious that leaders of Congress would accept if he intervenes in internal matters. B. P. Menon added that as much he know them, they could do anything for the country’s integration. Then Mountbatten had given his willingness to help, and, soon met with Sardar Patel. Jawahar Lal Nehru also appointed Mountbatten as a mediator between the Indian government and princely states.
As Lord Mountbatten was a member of the British Royal family, princely states were more favoring equal talks with him than with other Indian leaders. This strengthens the position of India, but B. P. Menon the government official working under English was suspicious that congress leader could believe in his loyalty or not. Sardar Patel took him in confidence and convince him to help in India’s integration, he eagerly wanted the freedom of a single India.
B.P. Menon created the papers of Instrument of accession (a contract for princely states to accept the rule of the Indian government) under Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Patel, and Mountbatten. Kings were asked to singed these papers first.
The process of integration and disintegration
Hyderabad was sure to remain independent, Bhopal was attracted to join Pakistan, in west Junagarh and Jodhpur were creating problems. Maharaja of Jodhpur, Nawab of Bhopal and Baroda was keen to join with special concessions not acceptable to states department.
On 11 June 1947 Travancore, declare itself independent on the very next day the Hyderabad also declared to make it an independent country after the 15th of August. It means the whole of south India would be disconnected from north India. The chaos was increasing, and to properly deal with the situation, a separate ministry was established under Sardar Patel, and B. P. Menon was appointed as the secretary. Travancore was predominant with King Balram Verma and his Diwan C. P. Aiyar, and both wanted Travancore to be independent. However, the people of Travancore were not happy with their decision. An incident happened, a mob tried to kill King Balram Verma which was enough to convince him, what its population wanted. Just before 3 days of freedom King sent a telegram of accepting the Instrument of Accession.
Sardar Patel established a link with princely states via All India Radio On 5 July 1947. He said, “It is a just a coincidence that some people are living under princely states and others are in British India, but our blood is one and our interest is also one and no one can break us in pieces and no boundary could become a hurdle, that’s why I want to suggest, we should sit together and make the laws as friends. I invite the king and others to the constituent assembly.”
But nothing changed, even kings who earlier were in the constituent assembly not ready to sign the Instrument of accession, and so now leaders involve Mountbatten. It was dangerous but with no other situation. On 25 July 1947, Mountbatten had put on all his medals to prove his connection to British Royal Family and move towards legislative assembly which is now called a parliament. Parliament was waiting for him with more than 100 kings of princely states, their he delivers a provoking speech.
Professor L. S. Rathore considers that speech of Mountbatten was not to provoke Kings to choose India or Pakistan but was full of signs and advantages to join with the dominion of India and, many princely states choose to join India after his speech. However, the challenges in integration were not over yet.
Hyderabad and Jammu Kashmir were outside India and Bhopal’a nawab Hamidulla Khan wanted to remain independent or to join Pakistan because he was one of the important chancellors of the Chamber of Princes, was close to Jinnah (you can conclude it from that Jinna pronounced him secretary-general of Pakistan), and strong friendship with Viceroy Mountbatten. Mountbatten wrote a letter to him, before 4 days of independence, and asked to sign an accession before 15 of august and give that to him, and if he wants to cancel it in the future he could till 25 august. After that Bhopal’s Nawab Hamidullah, change his mind and sent a letter to Patel for accepting India’s rule or accession.
As the date of independence coming closer, there was a state of confusion with a rumor that Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner (were closely related to one another) would join Pakistan. Earlier Jodhpur signed Instrument of accession, but later were not willing integrate, even open a factory of arms in Jodhpur, with a belief that Jaisalmer and Bikaner will support. After independence till 15 February 1950 Jaisalmer was suspicious to join India or Pakistan or remain independent. (inhabitants of the region were also in suspicion or threatened of any wrong decision of kings)
Jodhpur’s Maharaj Hanumant Singh met several times with Jinnah and other leaders of the Muslim league. In the last such meeting on 6 August 1947, Maharaj Hanumant Singh took the prince of Jaisalmer Kumar Girdhar Singh with him as Maharaj of Bikaner refuses to accompany him as he was worried to go alone. Jinnah offered a signed blank paper which could be filled with any demands of Maharaja to join Pakistan. Maharaja conditions to join were, to use Karachi port, free import of arms and the control of railway line which passes from Jodhpur to Hyderabad of Sindh and, some help to deal with the drought in Jodhpur area. However, the Maharaja of Jaisalmer Girdhar Singh didn’t support the proposal and then Jodhpur Maharaj Hanumant Singh also refused (due to suspicion on Hindu and Muslim revolt, and Jinnah’s tilt towards Muslims and Jaisalmer’s Kumar Girdhar Singh also refuse to join) And also asked some time to decide on the merger with Pakistan which angered Jinnah.
On 9 August 1947, Maharaja of Jodhpur Hanumant Singh was invited by Lord Mountbatten to New Delhi and after a conversation, the viceroy asked him to meet Sardar Patel. He met Sardar Patel on very next day and expressed his views to remain independent, but after sharing some words, Hanumant agreed to integrate with India. However, On 11 August 1947, he again reached the viceroy lodge and tear the papers of Instrument of Accession by saying he is not willing to accept the dictatorships of anybody and, point the gun over B. P. Menon. The scenario was soon joined by Lord Mountbatten but his aura was different, he asked Hanumant Singh to sign the Instrument of Accession, and the Maharaja signed that immediately.
Now let’s see the story of Junagarh it was 15 August 1947 when Nawab of Junagarh Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, decided to join his state with Pakistan. On 17 August 1947 congress leaders asked for a cabinet meeting to deal with the situation, but before that, they were called by Lord Mountbatten, which changed everything. Sardar Patel was in favor of military action against Junagarh, but Mountbatten said, its a trap by Jinnah to create a road map to acquire Kashmir (if the Indian government would say that Junagarh is Hindu majority and its Muslim leader can’t decide to join with Pakistan, they would ask how can the Hindu ruler with the majority Muslim population of Kashmir decide not to join Pakistan). This canceled the military action to Junagarh and decided to increase Blockade and also sent B. P. Menon to inquire and know the person behind the uprisings of Junagarh. (the Nawab himself or his Diwan Shah Nawaz Bhutto was the grandfather of Ex. Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto) B. P. Menon unsuccessfully tried to meet Nawab, and return to Delhi but on his way, he was able to convince two small Jageer’s of Junagarh, the Mangalore, and the Babdhiya Badh in return nawab sent his army and forced them to cancel the Instrument of Accession with India.
As decided by Prime Minister Nehru On 24 September blockade of Junagarh was started. On 27 September 1947, there was a meeting with Mountbatten, he suggested going for United Nations because this act could lead to a war between India and Pakistan, which was one of their hidden interests called retreating colonial power. Indian leaders did not accept the suggestion of Mountbatten. Junagarh was blockade by the Indian army and its people were also revolting against nawab’s decision, which frightens nawab, and, he ran to Karachi. Now all power to rule was with his Diwan Shah Nawaz Bhutto who called for help from Jinnah which was not responded by hi, so on 7 November 1947 Shah Nawaz Bhutto asked to join with India. In February 1948 Indian government conducted a referendum which was in India’s favor.
Hyderabad’s Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan (one of the richest people in the world), announced that he will not join India at any cost, he was supported by Kashim Razmi. November 1947 Kashim Razmi came to Delhi to threaten Sardar Patel, but he had committed several atrocities, (communal riots, murders, and rapes) government of Hyderabad constituted a committed which inquire and come to know that he was a criminal. Kasim Razmi’ views were Hindus will not have any political power and be under Muslim rule, and which took a communal stand.
India with very difficulty was able to sign a standstill agreement with Hyderabad, which means the status quo will be maintained for one year. Although, Hyderabad refuse to sign the Instrument of accession, and also acting against India such as it credited 20 crore rupee to Pakistan and also exchange of arms from Pakistan. The Indian army was involved in the war with Pakistan in Kashmir and Hyderabad knew that army will not turn towards it. Prime Minister of Hyderabad Layak Ali moves towards Delhi to meet Nehru and Patel. On 22 April 1948, he wrote a letter to Lord Mountbatten and said that the relation between Hyderabad’s Nizam and its population is their internal matters, and asked not to interfere.
To solve this situation on 13 June 1948, Mountbatten convinced the Indian government to provide some special status of own rule, an own army of 20,000 and Indian army could enter the boundary only on the condition of Internal emergency in Hyderabad. When the Indian government allowed them with special status Nizam changed his demand for independent status for Hyderabad.
Which gives no other options to Prime Minister Nehru besides military action. Layak Ali also threatening to take this matter to United Nations. On 10 September 1948, Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Hyderabad’s Nawab with the last option to accept India’s rule, which was not accepted by him. Now, the Indian army enters the boundary of Hyderabad and attacked on 13 September 1948 and started Operation caterpillar or Operation Polo or Police action. After combat of 5 days, on 17 September 1948 Nizam Usman Ali approach Hyderabad radio and declare their surrender and also accepted to sign the Instrument of accession.
(Pictures from google)