Integration of Princely States after Independence


British India was divided into what were called the British Indian Provinces and the Princely States. Several large and small states ruled by princes, called the Princely States, enjoyed some form of control over their internal affairs as long as they accepted British supremacy. This was called paramountcy of the British crown. Princely States covered one-third of the land area of the British Indian Empire and one out of four Indians lived under princely rule.

The problem
Just before independence, it was announced by the British that with the end of their rule over India, paramountcy of the British crown over Princely States would also lapse. This meant that all these states, as many as 565 in all, would become legally independent. The British government took the view that all these states were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent if they so wished. This was a very serious problem and could threaten the very existence of a united India. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (India’s first deputy prime minister and the home minister) with the assistance of V.P Menon (the secretary of the Ministry of the States) was given the formidable task of integrating the princely states. He played a historic role in negotiating with the rulers of princely states firmly but diplomatically and bringing most of them into the Indian Union.

It was the first princely state to refuse the accession to Indian Union and question the Congress leadership of the nation. By 1946, dewan of Travancore, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, declared his intention of forming the independent state that would be open to the idea of signing a treaty with the Indian Union. The southern Indian maritime state was strategically placed for the maritime trade and was rich in both human and mineral resources.
He stuck to his position till as late as July 1947. He changed his mind soon after he survived an assassination attempt by a member of the Kerala Socialist Party. On July 30,1947 Travancore joined India.

It was the largest and richest of all princely states, covered a large portion of the Deccan plateau. Nizam Mir Usman Ali was presiding over a largely Hindu population in the princely state. He was very clear on his demand for an independent state and blatantly refused to join the Indian dominion. Both requests and threats from Patel and other mediators failed to change the mind of the Nizam, who kept expanding his army by importing arms from Europe. Things took a turn for the worse when armed fanatics (called Raza Kars) unleashed violence targeted at Hyderabad’s Hindu residents. The Congress government decided to make a more decisive turn after the Lord Mountbatten resignation in June 1948.On September 13, 1948, Indian troops were sent to Hyderabad under ‘Operation Polo’. In an armed encounter that lasted for about four days, the Indian army gained full control of the state and Hyderabad became the integral part of India.Later, in an attempt to reward the Nizam for his submission, he was made the governor of the state of Hyderabad.

It was a princely state with a Hindu king ruling over a predominant Muslim population which had remained reluctant to join either of the two dominions. The ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh had offered a proposal of standstill agreement to both India and Pakistan, pending a final decision on the state’s accession. Pakistan entered into the standstill agreement but it invaded the Kashmir from north with an army of soldiers and tribesmen carrying weapons. In the early hours of 24th October, 1947, thousands of tribal Pathana swept into Kashmir. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir appealed to India for help. He sent his representative Sheikh Abdullah to Delhi to ask for India’s help. On 26th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh fled from Srinagar and arrived in Jammu where he signed an ‘Instrument of Accession’ of J&K state. According to the terms of the document, the Indian jurisdiction would extend to external affairs, communications and defense. After the document was signed, Indian troops were airlifted into the state and fought alongside the Kashmiris. On 5th March, 1948, Maharaja Hari Singh announced the formation of an interim popular government with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah as the Prime Minister.

It is noteworthy here that the Rajapramukhs of the five Unions as well as the rulers of Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Mysore all adopted the Constitution of India, by proclamations. The process of integration culminated in the constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956, which abolished Part B states as a class and included all the states in Part A and B in one list. Therefore, approximately 216 princely states lost their identity and become a uniform political organization embodied in the Constitution of India.

Aishwarya Says:

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