India’s troubles did not subside even after being freed from 200 years of slavery of the British. After independence, the biggest challenge before India was to unite India, divided into more than 500 princely states, to form a complete nation. Let us know about the 5 princely states which refused to join India:
1.State of Travancore:
The princely state of Travancore was the first to refuse access to India. The princely state was prosperous in terms of maritime trade and mineral resources. Questioning the Congress leadership, the name of the Diwan of the princely state of Travancore, who pulled out of the merger, was Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer. He was also a lawyer. Historian Ramachandra Guha believes that Muhammad Ali Jinnah had advised Iyer not to merge. The second reason for withdrawing from the merger is also believed to be the alleged secret agreement between Iyer and the British government.
It is said that under this agreement, the British wanted to keep their control over the minerals coming out of Travancore. The Diwan remained in his post till the end of July 1947. The people of Travancore were angry with Iyer’s decision. People were protesting. However, this did not affect the Diwan. Then a member of the Kerala Socialist Party attempted to assassinate Dewan. When he survived, the Diwan changed his mind and Travancore joined India on 30 July 1947.
The king of this princely state and its large population was Hindu. Despite this, Maharaja Hanwant Singh wanted the princely state of Jodhpur to be a part of Pakistan. Singh was lured by Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he would have complete control over the port of Karachi if he became part of Pakistan. At the same time Jinnah also promised military and agricultural assistance. When Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel came to know about this, he immediately approached the prince and offered substantial benefits.
Patel also told him about the problems of joining a Muslim state. Eventually the prince of Jodhpur agreed to merge with India. Historian Ramachandra Guha in his book “India After Gandhi” writes, “On the presentation of the merger treaty, the prince of Jodhpur dramatically took out a revolver and placed it on the secretary’s head, saying, “I will accept your orders.” I will not”. However, after a few minutes he calmed down and signed the document.
After independence, the princely state of Bhopal also refused to merge. Nawab Hamidullah Khan of this princely state was a staunch opponent of the Congress and close to the Muslim League. He wanted Bhopal to be a part of Pakistan. However, the majority of the princely population was Hindus, who were opposing this decision. The geographical location was also not testifying to the accession to Pakistan. But the Nawab was not ready to give up his insistence. Even after the independence of India, the tricolor was not hoisted in Bhopal. After a long tussle with the government, Bhopal merged with India in July 1947.
4.State of Hyderabad:
The case of the princely state of Hyderabad was more challenging for the Government of India. Nizam Mir Osman Ali was presiding over the largely Hindu population during the country’s independence. When the British decided to leave the country, the Nizam very clearly put forth the demand for an independent state for himself. He wanted Hyderabad to be declared an independent nation under the British Commonwealth. Jinnah was also openly supporting the Nizam. Lord Mountbatten, however, made it clear that the Crown did not agree to make Hyderabad a member of the British Commonwealth, except for the two new colonies.
Jinnah had promised to protect the oldest Muslim dynasty in India. But Patel believed that an independent Hyderabad equaled India’s colon cancer. India waited for a while and after Mountbatten’s resignation in June 1948, the government took a decisive step. Indian soldiers reached Hyderabad on 13 September and only four days later the Nizam laid down his arms. This feat was known as ‘Operation Polo’. After the merger, the Government of India made the Nizam the Governor of Hyderabad.
Apart from Hyderabad, there was one other state which did not join the Indian Union till August 15, 1947. The Gujarati state of Junagadh. Junagadh was the most important of the group of Kathiawar kingdoms. Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji also ruled over a large Hindu population here. In early 1947 the Diwan of Junagadh Nabi Baksh invited Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto of the Muslim League to join the Council of Ministers. Bhutto took over the office in the absence of the current Diwan.