Annexation of Junagadh

Junagadh was a princely state of the British Raj, located in what is now the Indian state of Gujarat. It was under the suzerainty of the British Raj, but not part of directly-ruled British India.

Annexation of Junagadh
Junaghad state.jpg
The State of Junagadh in 1947
Result Indian victory

Junagadh Annexed

  • Pakistani control withdrawn
India India

Pakistan Pakistan

Commanders and leaders
India Jawaharlal Nehru
India Vallabhbhai Patel

Pakistan M. A. Jinnah
Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan

Mahabat Khan

At the independence and partition of British India of 1947, the 562 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, about 80%. The Nawab acceded to the Dominion of Pakistan on 15 August 1947, against the advice of Lord Mountbatten, arguing that Junagadh joined Pakistan by sea.[citation needed] The principality of Babariawad and Sheikh of Mangrol reacted by claiming independence from Junagadh and accession to India,[1] although the Sheikh of Mangrol withdrew his accession to India the very next day.[2] Muhammad Ali Jinnah waited for a month to accept the Instrument of Accession. When Pakistan accepted the Nawab's Instrument of Accession on 16 September, the Government of India was outraged that Jinnah could accept the accession of Junagadh despite his argument that Hindus and Muslims could not live as one nation.[citation needed] Home minister Vallabhbhai Patel believed that if Junagadh was permitted to go to Pakistan, it would exacerbate the communal tension already simmering in Gujarat.[citation needed]

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. Meanwhile, tensions were simmering in the regional areas and in major cities such as Bombay against Nawab's decision. 25,000 - 30,000 people belonging to Saurashtra and Junagadh gathered in Bombay, proclaiming to "liberate" Junagadh from the Nawab's regime. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile, the Aarzi Hukumat (lit. Temporary 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.[3]

Scholars have observed that India annexed Junagadh through force[4][5][6][7] with scholars viewing the annexation as part of a wider programme by the Indian state of getting the rulers of princely states to accede into a unified post colonial India.[8][9]


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 18 July 1947. As a result, the native states were left with these choices: to accede to either of the two new dominions, India or Pakistan or to remain an independent state.

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.[10] However, Muslim League politicians from Sindh had joined Junagadh's executive council since May, and the state's diwan was away for health reasons, leaving the charge with Shah Nawaz Bhutto.[a] Bhutto met Jinnah in July, who advised him to hold out till 15 August under any circumstances.[11] Accordingly, the state continued to give the impression till the last moment that it was intending to join India along with other Kathiawar states.[12] Four days before independence, under the influence of the Muslim League politicians, the Nawab decided to join Pakistan, and sent a delegation to Karachi to negotiate terms with Pakistan,[13][14] disregarding Mountbatten's contiguity principle.[15] Mountbatten's contention was that only states bordering Pakistan should accede to it. Evidently, it was not a constitutional requirement, only a political one.[16] The Nawab and Pakistan reasoned that Junagadh was close enough to Pakistan and linked by a sea route (Veraval to Karachi).[17]

Junagadh, under the amendments done to the Government of India Act 1935, had political bonds with the neighboring states of Mangrol and Babariawad. In 1943, The latter states were tied to Junagadh through an attachment scheme, but when the act was adopted in 1947, the amendments had not carried over, and this lapse was the base on which VP Menon argued that Junagadh did not have a say in the affairs of Mangrol and Babariawad states.[18] Nehru strategised that if Junagadh didn't recognize the accession of Mangrol and Babariawad and withdraw its forces from the latter, then he would send in forces, information of which he sent to Pakistan and Britain. Meanwhile, a study case of India regarding Junagadh was made in the international opinion through press communiques that provided information on Junagadh's geographical contiguity to Indian landscape and its demographics.[18]

Instrument of accessionEdit

IoA of Junagadh, first page

Mountbatten and Ayyangar 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 the state's accession should be decided by its people instead of the ruler.[19] Nehru laid out India's position which was that India did not accept Junagadh's accession to Pakistan.[20]

Later at the United Nations Security Council, India's argument revolved around the wishes of the people which it accused the Nawab of ignoring. India's representative at the UNSC was also advised to avoid legalistic arguments about the Instrument of Accession because of the effect it could have on Kashmir.[21]

Provisional government (Aarzee Hukumat)Edit

Upon Menon's advice[22] Mahatma Gandhi's nephew, Samaldas Gandhi, created a provisional government in Bombay with the provincial government's backing.[23][24] This government received support from the 'Gujarat States Organisation' and also received sponsorship from the Kathiawar States' Political Conference.[25][22][b]

Samaldas Gandhi, U. N. Dhebar and members of Junagadh People's Conference met at the office of Gujarati daily Vande Mataram in Bombay on 19 August 1947. He was specially invited to attend Kathiawar Political Conference on 25 August 1947. A five-member committee called Junagadh Committee was formed on 15 September 1947. Gandhi met V. P. Menon and proposed to form a government-in-exile the Aarzi Hakumat or Provisional Government of Junagadh State. On 25 September 1947, the Aarzi Hukumat headed by Samaldas Gandhi was declared in a public meeting at Madhavbagh in Bombay.[29]

The five member ministry of Aarzi Hakumat went to Rajkot. Gandhi became the Prime Minister and also held ministry of foreign affairs. Aarzi Hakumat captured 160 villages in forty days, from 30 September to 8 November 1947.[29]

India allowed the provisional government to take control over outlying areas of Junagadh.[30][23] India later at the UN Security Council denied ever having supported the provisional government.[31][32] Pakistan objected to India's indifference to the actions of Junagadh's provisional government.[33] Nehru wrote to Pakistan that the provisional government was "a spontaneous expression of popular resentment" to the state's accession to Pakistan by Junagadh's local population.[citation needed]

Blockade and Indian annexationEdit

To force the Nawab of Junagadh to change his decision, the Provisional Government (Aarzee Hukumat) and the volunteer forces in the surrounding regions of Kathiawar implemented a blockade.[31][23] India later denied ever having blocked Junagadh's supplies.[32] The blockade compelled the state's ruler to leave for Pakistan,[34] who left the state's administration to Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto. Menon claimed that the Nawab had delegated the state's destiny to Bhutto, which is not implausible since it was primarily Shah Nawaz Bhutto who had taken the decision to accede to Pakistan, under the close influence and mentorship of Jinnah. Bhutto requested the regional commissioner for administrative assistance "pending an honourable settlement of the several issues involved in Junagadh's accession." Diwan Bhutto waited till November for Pakistan to send help, but none came. The provisional government, nationalistic volunteers from the Indian side, and the Hindu residents had started to agitate and tensions were simmering. Meanwhile, the state of Junagadh had raised a force of 670 Muslim men, who had been stationed at various places to ensure retaliation, if any. Fearing an outbreak of communal violence, on 9 November 1947, the Indian Government assumed the state's administration to re-establish peace.[35] Nawab's soldiers were disarmed, with Diwan Bhutto leaving for Pakistan a day before.[36]

Nehru telegrammed Liaquat Ali Khan:

In view of special circumstances pointed out by Junagadh Dewan that is the Prime Minister of Junagadh – our Regional Commissioner at Rajkot has taken temporary 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.[37]

Liaquat Ali Khan replied:

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.[38]

Reports arrived of widespread murder, rape and looting of Muslims in Junagarh following the arrival of Indian troops.[39] Many Muslims from Junagarh began migrating to Pakistan.[40]

After India assumed administration in Junagadh, India's Ministry of Law stated that the accession of Junagadh to Pakistan had not been invalidated by plebiscite and that Junagadh had not yet acceded to India. But India went ahead with the referendum because it believed the result would be in its favour.[41]


On 24 September, legal adviser Walter Monckton told Mountbatten that Pakistan's consent would be needed for any plebiscite India wished to conduct in Junagadh because of the Nawab's accession to Pakistan.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44]

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'.[45] In the plebiscite India polled 222,184 votes and Pakistan 130 out of a total population of 720,000 of Junagadh and its feudatories.[45]

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.[45] 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.[45] According to scholar Rakesh Ankit, India took liberties with facts and laws as it acted as the "judge, jury and executioner" of the entire situation.[46]

Later arrangementsEdit

After six months administration by Government of India, three civilian members (Samaldas Gandhi, Dayashankar Dave and Pushpaben Mehta) were inducted for the administration of Junagadh on 1 June 1948. The election of the seven constituencies of the Junagadh region for the Constitution Assembly of Saurashtra was declared in December 1948. All seven members of Indian National Congress were elected unopposed and they all voted to merge Junagadh State with Saurashtra State. The merger was completed in January 1949.[29]

On 1 November 1956, Saurashtra State was merged with Bombay State. Bombay State was split into the linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960, and Junagadh district is now one of the districts of Gujarat.

Pakistan brought the case of Junagadh to the United Nations in January 1948. The UN Security Council commanded its commission on Kashmir to examine the conflict over Junagadh.[23] The Kashmir conflict eclipsed the matter of Junagadh at the United Nations Security Council,[47] where Junagadh's case is still unresolved.[23][48] Pakistan's official maps show Junagadh, Manavadar and Sir Creek as Pakistani territory.[49][50][51]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Shahnawaz Bhutto was a politician from Sindh, and the father of the later Pakistan prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
  2. ^ The Kathiawar Political Conference (Kathiawar Rajkiya Parishad) was established in 1921 to coordinate the peoples' movements in the princely states of Kathiawar.[26] Its goal was to achieve some participation of the states' subjects in the governance of the states.[27] It became a member of the All India States Peoples' Conference when the latter was founded in 1927, and remained so until its dissolution in April 1948, after which it merged with the Indian National Congress.[28]


  1. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India 2010, pp. 35, 38.
  2. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair (2015, p. 113); Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India (2010, p. 38); Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 377)
  3. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (1991). Patel: A Life. India: Navajivan. p. 438. ASIN B0006EYQ0A.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Lorne J. Kavic (1967). India's Quest for Security: Defence Policies, 1947-1965. University of California Press. pp. 32–. GGKEY:FN05HYT73UF.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016)
  9. ^ 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...Patel and V.P. Menon bullied rulers to accede
  10. ^ Banerji, Arun (2007). "Border". Aspects of India's International Relations, 1700 to 2000: South Asia and the World. Pearson Education India. p. 206. ISBN 9788131708347. The decision on Junagadh's accession to Pakistan was announced on 15 August.
  11. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India (2010), pp. 31–32; Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016), p. 374
  12. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India (2010), pp. 31–32: "Junagadh in turn managed to mislead Delhi and other neighbouring states by issuing proclamations of Kathiawar unity."
  13. ^ Banerji, Arun (2007). "Borders". Aspects of India's International Relations, 1700 to 2000: South Asia and the World. Pearson Education India. p. 207. ISBN 9788131708347.
  14. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016), p. 374; Bangash, A Princely Affair (2015), p. 108
  15. ^ Copland, The Princes of India 1997, p. 260.
  16. ^ Copland, The Princes of India 1997, p. 260, footnote 120.
  17. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India (2010), pp. 31–32: 'Jinnah assured Bhutto that he would not allow Junagadh to be “starved out or tyrannized and that Veraval was not far from Karachi.”'
  18. ^ a b Ankit, Rakesh (July 2016). "The accession of Junagadh, 1947–48: Colonial sovereignty, state violence and post-independence India". The Indian Economic & Social History Review. 53 (3): 371–404. doi:10.1177/0019464616651167. ISSN 0019-4646. S2CID 147765080.
  19. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 381): While Ayyangar and Mountbatten concurred that Junagarh'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.
  20. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 383.
  21. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401): 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.
  22. ^ a b Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 381.
  23. ^ a b c d e McLeod, John (1996), "Junagadh", in James Stuart Olson; Robert Shadle (eds.), Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 613, ISBN 978-0-313-29366-5
  24. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 112: "The second tactic was the Arzi Hukumat (provisional government), which was set up under the leadership of Samaldas Gandhi, a nephew of Mahatma Gandhi, under the auspices of the Government of India in Bombay [sic]."
  25. ^ Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India 2010, pp. 39–40.
  26. ^ McLeod, Sovereignty, Power, Control 1999, pp. 37–38.
  27. ^ Ramusack, Congress and the People's Movement in Princely India 1988, p. 381.
  28. ^ Ramusack, Congress and the People's Movement in Princely India 1988, p. 395.
  29. ^ a b c Jani, Shashikant Vishwanath (1 January 2010). "ગાંધી, શામળદાસ લક્ષ્મીદાસ". Gujarati Vishwakosh (in Gujarati). Archived from the original on 2 January 2022. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ a b Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 112.
  32. ^ 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."
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Copland, The Princes of India 1997, p. 261-262.
  35. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 117.
  36. ^ Yagnik & Sheth, Shaping of Modern Gujarat (2005), pp. 222–224.
  37. ^ 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
  38. ^ Bangash, A Princely Affair 2015, p. 118.
  39. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 397)
  40. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 396)
  41. ^ 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'.
  42. ^ 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...Pakistan's recognition of any plebiscite that India may conduct had to be obtained."
  43. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 401)
  44. ^ Noorani, A. G. (13 October 2001), "Of Jinnah and Junagadh", Frontline
  45. ^ a b c d Ankit, The accession of Junagadh (2016, p. 402)
  46. ^ Ankit, The accession of Junagadh 2016, p. 403.
  47. ^ Lesley G. Terris (8 December 2016). Mediation of International Conflicts: A Rational Model. Taylor & Francis. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-315-46776-4.
  48. ^ Pande, Explaining Pakistan's Foreign Policy 2011, p. 18.
  49. ^ Devirupa Mitra, Pakistan Objects to India's Map Bill But its Own 2014 Law Regulates Geospatial Data Too, The Wire, 18 May 2016.
  50. ^ Philip Jagessar, Pakistan, India and mapping the contested accession of South Asia's princely states, University of Nottingham, 3 October 2019.
  51. ^ "After Nepal, Pakistan unveils new political map; Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh claimed, India retorts". The Himalayan Times. 4 August 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.


Further readingEdit