Bhopal : ‘Gaurav Diwas’ was being celebrated in Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal on Thursday, to mark its merger into the Indian Union in 1949, with different departments of the state administrations having made elaborate arrangements, sports activities having begun a day before and an extravagant cultural programme to be held.
The concept of ‘Gaurav Diwas’ initiated by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in February last year when he had appealed the representatives of each village, town, district of the state to celebrate the occasion on a particular day – for instance Indore’s ‘pride day’ was celebrated to mark the foundation day of state’s commercial city last week. Similarly, Bhopal district administration is celebrating capital city’s ‘Gaurav Diwas’ on its merger day with India after Independence.
Bhopal, which remained a princely states even after Independence like many others across the country, was merged with the Union of India on June 1, 1949, hence it the 74th anniversary of the merger.
Chouhan had greeted people of the city on the occasion. “This auspicious time came on June 1, 1949, two years after independence of the country, when Bhopal became an integral part of India. Number of people had made sacrifices for this day. I bow at the feet of determined, brave sons.”
There are many stories on how Bhopal’s last Nawab, Mohammad Hamidullah Khan, who had acquired a high profile by virtue of being the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, harbored aspirations of an independent Bhopal and made his best possible effort to achieve it but was foiled.
One such untold story on merger of Bhopal, written by senior journalist Sandeep Bamzai, who is Editor in-Chief and CEO in his book “Princestan”, which explain how the unity of a newborn nation was insured by Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Lord Mountbatten.
As per the book, some courses that some of the Princes, particularly the Nawab of Bhopal, had hoped to present to the politicians in British India were “already in disarray by the time the Congress and the Muslim League had agreed to accept the plan for Indian independence, and the situation deteriorated rapidly thereafter”.
“The Nawab of Bhopal was harbouring delusions of grandeur – like several others – was completely spooked. He reckoned that the Congress would swoop down on him (which they did eventually). He resigned as Chancellor of the Chamber and announced that he would consider himself free and independent the moment the British departed from India, to choose the destiny of his state for himself.”
The Nawab, as per the book, had due to his “high profile by virtue of being the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes”, shared an excellent rapport with Mohammad Ali Jinnah and an excellent equation with Lord Mountbatten as well.
“But the Nawab, like Travancore, Hyderabad and Kashmir, harbored aspirations of an independent Bhopal and thought the British crown would bail him out in crunch situations. In fact, with Mountbatten arriving in India, Hamidullah Khan’s hopes were high before the new Viceroy crushed the ambition without so much as a by-your-leave.
“The Nawab thought of a brighter future in Pakistan such as planned to abdicate in favor of Abida Sultan, the heir apparent, and leave for Karachi. The Nawab was even promised the post of Governor General of Pakistan. He was prevented from doing so by a grievous family dispute that he could not resolve, although he tried his best.
Citing Abida Sultan’s autobiography – “Memories of a Rebel Princes”, “Princestan” reveals the desperation of Nawab Hamidullah in those last days: “On August 13, 1947, I (Abida Sultan) was summoned by his highness to the farmhouse at Nichey-Ka-Bagh where he exercised. On being ushered to his room, I found him alone, sweating heavily. He then pulled out his revolver, pointing it straight at me, ordered me to sit down. ‘I am leaving soon for Pakistan,’ he said. ‘I want you to take over the affairs of the state. I shall probably be appointed Governor General. Jinnah has asked me to come over. But I want you to ensure that I receive five lakhs a year from the state. Do you accept it?’ ‘Why don’t you pull the trigger?’ I replied.”
In March 1949, V. P. Menon (the then Secretary of the government of India) arrived in Bhopal to finalise the merger agreement. According to this, Hamidullah Khan was to receive a privy purse of Rs 11 lakh annually and the Princely State of Bhopal was relegated to the annals of history.
Subsequently, the state of Bhopal was taken over by the Union Government on June 1, 1949. Later, according to the States Reorganisation Act 1956, Bhopal was integrated into the state of Madhya Pradesh and Bhopal was declared as the capital of the state.