Friday October 15, 2021

Indian occupation of Junagadh — an act of brazen aggression

Apart from occupying Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, India through an act of brazen aggression transgressed upon the Muslim-ruled princely state of Junagadh and occupied it by force soon after the partition of the Indo-Pak sub-continent.

Bahadur Khan Babi, son of Shayr Khan Babi proclaimed independence from Mughal rule after the great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb passed away in 1736 AD. However, Junagadh came under the suzerainty of the British crown after the British occupied the sub-continent like other 561 princely states. The Juanagdh had the unique dispensation of being the second largest among Muslim states and a rich one as well as it was ranked 5th in terms of revenue generation states of British India. It was ranked one the major princely states of British India because with an area of around 4000 square miles, Junagdh had a standing army of its own and a proper system of governance.

At the time of partition, the Viceroy of British India, Lord Mountbatten had clearly announced that British India’s princely states would be independent to decide for accession irrespective of geographical compulsion, but afterwards he took a U-turn and geographical contiguity was enforced to facilitate India’s illegal occupation of states like Jammu and Kashmir and Junagdh.

History is evident to the fact that Nawab Mohabat Khanji, the then governor of Junagadh reached an agreement with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Governor General of Pakistan and signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’. Junagadh became the first princely state to accede to Pakistan on 15 September 1947.

However, India had plans of its own. When after the culmination of the agreement, the Nawab of Junagadh visited Karachi, capital of Pakistan at that time, to discuss procedural details concerning accession, India behind his back, took it as a chance of interference; India’s crony Shamal Das Gandhi and his affiliates sparked disorder in the state. Indian Army advanced its troops and occupied Junagadh on 9 November, 1947. India claimed that on basis of population, it was rightful in occupying Junagdh despite the fact that the Nawab had signed a legally authentic Instrument of Accession with Pakistan. In complete contrast India claims that Maharaja Hari Singh acceded state of Jammu and Kashmir to India despite the state being Muslim majority, which exposes Indian double standards. It also proves the very fact that on the basis of its religion based political doctrine, the Indian government made the ground for this transgression.

At the time of partition, Pakistan was facing many challenges like the lack of resources, no organised army and influx of refugees and it was not in any position to retaliate Indian aggression. However, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah approached the United Nations for the redressal of the issue in January 1948. The UN Security Council ordered its commission on Kashmir to examine the conflict over Junagadh. However, the case still remains unresolved. History is evident to the very fact that at the United Nations Security Council, India’s argument revolved around the ‘wishes of the people’ scenario and it accused the Nawab of Junagadh for ignoring it, but on the other hand New Delhi ignored the same principal for the situation in Jammu and Kashmir where Maharaja Hari Singh ignored the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir allowing India to forcibly occupy Jammu and Kashmir for over 70 years.

India’s claim of accession on Jammu and Kashmir is rejected by the people of Kashmir and challenged by Pakistan. The claim has neither been accepted by United Nations, nor is legally valid. While on the other hand there is a genuine ‘Instrument of Accession’ duly signed by Nawab of Junagadh & Quaid-e-Azam, which clearly means that Indian occupation is illegal and Pakistan still has a valid and legal claim on Junagadh at the international level because ‘Instrument of Accession’ signed by Nawab of Junagadh and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is still intact.

It is incumbent upon the government of Pakistan to deal with all disputes with India, including Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad simultaneously. Therefore, the Pakistani nation particularly its media, civil society and academia need to play their role in bringing the Junagadh issue to limelight. Last year, the government of Pakistan included Junagadh back into its political map, but more efforts are needed to highlight this issue at different international forums. Pakistan should also include the issue of Junagdh like the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in its bilateral talks with India so that it is resolved as per the principles laid down at the time of the partition.