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Junagadh (Junagarh) - 1947-1949

The euphoria of independence was short-lived as partition brought disastrous consequences for India in the wake of communal conflict. Partition unleashed untold misery and loss of lives and property as millions of Hindu and Muslim refugees fled either Pakistan or India. Both nations were also caught up in a number of conflicts involving the allocation of assets, demarcation of boundaries, equitable sharing of water resources, and control over Kashmir. At the same time, Indian leaders were faced with the stupendous task of national integration and economic development.

When the British relinquished their claims to paramountcy, the 562 independent princely states were given the option to join either of the two nations. Before independence, Mountbatten had made it clear to the Indian princes that they would have to choose to join either India or Pakistan at partition. In all but three cases, the princes, most of them ruling over very small territories, were able to work out an agreement with one country or another, generally a deal that preserved some measure of their status and a great deal of their revenue. A few princely states readily joined Pakistan, but the rest - except Hyderabad (the largest of the princely states with 132,000 square kilometers and a population of more than 14 million), Jammu and Kashmir (with 3 million inhabitants), and Junagadh (with a population of 545,000) - merged with India.

The issue of Kashmir, Hyderabad, and the small and fragmented state of Junagadh (in present-day Gujarat), remained unsettled at independence, however. The Muslim ruler of Hindu-majority Junagadh agreed to join to Pakistan, but a movement by his people, followed by Indian military action and a plebiscite (people's vote of self-determination), brought the state into India.

Junagadh was a First class 15 gun salute State, situated in the western Indian State agency (Kathiawar) in the Indian province of Gujarat. The area of Junagadh State consisted upon 3,336 sq. miles of rich and fertile land, it lies on the south west portion of the Kathiawar peninsular. It was bounded on the south by the Arabian Sea. The State commanded a sea coast of 84 miles possessing delightful golden sandy beaches. It had 16 ports of which the principal was VeraVal. The total number of cities and towns numbered up to 999.

The name Junagadh means Old Fort. Various famous rulers such as the Kshatrapas, Mauryans, Chudasamas, Guptas, Vilabhis, Gujarat Sultans and Babi Nawabs have reigned in this part of the world. The architecture and rich cultural heritage of Junagadh stands as the edifice of the political and religious influences of the various rulers who have ruled the region. Junagadh was the capital of Gujarat under the Kshatrapa rulers from the 2nd to 4th centuries. The Chadva Rajputs ruled from Junagadh from 875 AD. Eventually the city came under the rule of the Muslims.

The capital of Junagadh State was a city also called Junagadh, which is situated on the slopes of the Girnar and Dathar hills and is one of the most picturesque in India; lying aproximagtely 70 miles from the coast line. The Uper Kot or the old Citadel contains interesting caves. The famous Ashoka inscriptions are carved out on a big bolster of black granite stone. At the foot of Girnar Hill range to the South-East, lies the extensive forest of the Gir comprising of 494 sq. miles and 823 acres, unique as it is the strong hold of the Junagadh State wild life, particularly the Asiatic Lion. Where the climate is healthy, with the annual rainfall of State up to 30 to 35 inches. Junagadh was an important fortress in the time of Asoka, and later when the Gupta kings ruled over this part of the country. The walls of the ancient citadel on the east side of the city have been raised at different times, until now they stand from sixty to seventy feet in height.

In 1748, as the Mughals grew weak, Sher Khan Babi cheerfully expelled his Mughal governor and went about seizing most of Saurastri-speaking India. The Babi signed on with the Hindu Marathas of Varoda, who were glad enough to protect the Muslim Babis. The Babis held on to Junagadh for centuries with the help of their Hindu overlords.

Providing new noses was quite an art in the district of Kattywar in the Bombay Presidency. Cutting off an enemy's nose was the favorite mode of vengeance throughout the state of Junagadh, where jealous husbands inflicted the same punishment on their wives. Sometimes the nose was bitten off and part of the lip will be taken also. By 1876 a Hindu doctor at the Junagadh Hospital has had so much practice in mending noses that he could restore the injured feature in a most wonderful manner leaving very little disfigurement. He had performed one hundred successful operations in "rhini plasty."

By the late 1880s there had been for some time back a controversy in progress between the representatives of the old village feudal functionaries who in former days formed the back-bone of Junaghur, as of all the Kattiawar States, defending the villages from Mohomedan raiders on the one side and Mahratta invaders on the other, and in return held their lands from the state free of all or nearly all imposts. When Kattiawar, in the early part of the 19th Century, was secured by the establishment of British supremacy from the attacks of external enemies, and order was gradually evoved out of chaos by the tact and firmness of British Residents, the need for the military services of the girassias of course lessened by degrees, and finally faded away altogether. The girassias naturally sought to retain their lands on the old tenure of military service, while the chiefs as naturally sought to either dispossess them, or at least tti make them pay the land tax like other holders. The dispute in Junaghur waxed warm, and a couple of years since the Bombay Government, on being referred to, decided that the Maiyas, the village police of the old time, must pay the state demand for the lands they held.

By 1900 Junagadh was one of the most interesting spots in the W. of India, is an ancient city of 30,000 inhabitants, picturesquely situated under the GIRNAR and DATAR HILLS. To the S.E. is the " Forest of Gir," famous as the home of the very few remaining Indian lions. His Highness the Nawab of Junagadh enjoyed the distinction of keeping the only preserve of lions left in Hindustan. Some specimens might be seen at that time in confinement in the SARDAR BAGH, S. of the town. N. of the city is the SAKAR BAGH, where there was a menagerie. Vistitors also saw the royal rhinoceroses wander as freely through the bazaars as elephants, though with their reptilian horned snouts they look utterly untamable; and, indeed, if of African race, would be so -but all Asiatic beasts are of milder nature. The most interesting caves are in the UpsirKotj the ancient citadel, permission to visit which must be obtained. It is very ancient, the officers of Asoka, and later those of the Gupta kings, being stationed here. The inner gateway, though spo1lt by Mohammedan additions, is a fine specimen of Hindu architecture. Rising above Junagadh is the Girnar Mountain (3,666ft.), on which are some most ancient Jain temples, and which has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries before the Christian era.

ZAFAR KHAN was able and most enterprising. His services were appreciated at the Imperial Court and the title of SAFDAR KHAN was bestowed upon him. When in 1705 A.D. The Marathas invaded Gujrat, Safdarkhan led an army to appose them. Safdarkhan Babi had nine sons. All his sons and grandsons were appointed to high offices during his life time. Among his sons, SHER KHAN was the bravest and the most enterprising. The Jagirdar of RANPUR, who was later under the Nawab Sahib of Junagadh State, was a descendant of his. Among the sons of Safdarkhan, SALABAT KHAN and JAWANMARD KHAN became very famous. The descendants of the former won the Kingdoms of JUNAGADH and WADASINOR, while those of the latter that of RADHANPUR.In 1715 A.D. when disorder prevailed in GOHILWAD, a general of Salabatkhan's caliber was ordered to restore peace and order. In 1728 A.D. the Foujdar of Junagadh died and Salabatkhan's son BAHADUR KHAN was appointed Nawab at JUNAGADH STATE in his father's place. In 1730 A.D. Salabatkhan died at PATODI on his way to Viramgam from Ahmedabad. His remains were taken to Ahmedabad and enterred in his family grave-yard. The 1st Nawab Muhammad Bahadur Khan - Known As SHERKHAN From 1748 A. D. to 1758 A. D. Just as Salabatkhan was the bravest and most capable of his brothers in the family of Safdarkhan so was BAHADURKHAN in that of Salabatkhan.

The 9th Nawab (1920 A.D To 1959 A.D) His Highness Col Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III G.C.I.E, K.C.S.I , H.M Queens Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, N.Q.A, who is ninth in succession and seventh in decent from His Highness the Nawab sahib BahadurKhan 1. the founder of the Babi family of Junagadh in 1748 A.D. Nawab sahib was born in 2nd august 1900, and succeeded to the Gadi on 22nd January 1911 A .D. but His Highness being then a minor the state was placed under the British Administrator. His Highness the Nawab Sahib as the Ruler of the premier State in Kathiawar, ranks first in among the Princess and Chiefs of Kathiawar enjoying plenary powers and enjoys a personal salute of 15 guns, the permanent salute being 15 guns within, and 13 guns outside, Junagadh territory.

The Muslim ruler of Junagarh, a state with Hindu majority population, announced his decision to join Pakistan. Mahabat Khan, Ruler of Junagadh State, in the exercise of sovereignty in and over the State executed an Instrument of Accession, and declared that he accede to the Dominion of Pakistan on 14 February 1949. Pakistan's then prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, had argued then that a ruler had the absolute right to so accede without reference to the moral or ethnic aspects of accession. Junagadh State was a jigsaw puzzle of geography. Excepting the Arabian Sea in the south and southwest, it was surrounded by several small States of the Kathiawar region that had acceded to India. Junagadh had no contiguity with Pakistan by land. On October 27, 1947, the dewan of Junagadh wrote to Jinnah, describing the disastrous consequences following Junagadh's accession to Pakistan, when over 100,000 Hindus fled the State.

India responded by aiding and abetting the establishment of a so-called "Provisional Government" of Junagarh on Indian territory, which attacked Junagarh with Indian connivance and support. Subsequently Indian forces also invaded Junagarh, despite protests from Pakistan, in order to "restore law and order". In mid-September 1947 Junagadh, as a part of Pakistan, sent troops into Babariawad (a group of 51 villages) and Mangrol (a teeny princely State) -- both entities located in the heart of Junagadh and both of which had already acceded to India. These two pockets inside Junagadh State, but outside its suzerainty, were reclaimed by India on November 1, 1947, with a civil administrator accompanied by a small force.

Junagadh's nawab was "an eccentric of rare vintage" whose "chief preoccupation in life was dogs, of which he owned hundreds". Towards the end of October 1947, before the last ignominious step, the nawab of Junagadh fled by air to Karachi with his bag, baggage and begums, the State's entire cash balances as well as the treasury's shares and securities in tow. The nawab found himself in exile [which perhaps explains the sorry state of his former palace and fort] leaving his Deewan (Prime Minister) to manage the affairs. The Deewan of Junagadh did the best that he could have done to bring the situation to normalcy. Another version of the story has Shahnawaz leading a palace coup overthrowing, and declaring for Pakistan.

A farcical plebiscite was organized under Indian auspices, and India annexed Junagarh. A referendum was polled on February 20, 1948, when, out of the 190,870 who exercised their franchise, 91 (sic) voted in favor of Pakistan.

The Halar district which was constituted for the first time in the year 1949 after the merger of princely states into the state of Saurashtra, constituted of the former Indian states of Nawanagar and Dhrol, Dhrafa Thana and part of Jalia Dewani. After re-organization several territorial changes were effected in practically all the districts of Saurashtra. On June 19th 1959, the boundaries of the district got enlarged by the inclusion of the adjoining Okhamandal, when Halar district was renamed Jamnagar. This district became part of the newly born State of Gujarat on the bifurcation of the composite State of Bombay on May 1st 1960.In the year 1961 the district consisted of 720 villages and 15 towns.

The Deewan of Junagadh was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who followed the Nawab to Pakistan in 1947, where he lived in retirement until his death in November 1957. His son, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, grew up to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan (and was executed by Zia-hl-Haq in 1977). And his grand-daughter, Benazir Bhutto served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan twice in the late 1980s and the 1990s.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:28:23 ZULU