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Why Bhopal Couldn’t See Tricolour Unfurl on August 15, 1947

The last Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan, did not accede to the Indian state or allow celebrations.

Vivek Trivedi | News18.com

Updated:August 16, 2017, 9:35 AM IST
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Why Bhopal Couldn’t See Tricolour Unfurl on August 15, 1947
Representative image. (File Photo: Ibnlive)
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Bhopal: On August 15, 1947, as Indians woke up to a free nation, people in Bhopal found it hard to even unfurl a national flag, let alone savouring the newfound freedom which was attained after decades of sacrifice and struggle.

The last Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan, did not accede to the Indian state or allow celebrations. Some of the elements backing Khan went on to unfurl Pakistan’s flag at several places leading to tension, say historians.

“However, undaunted freedom fighters, dodging the Nawab’s orders, managed to hoist the tricolour at the historical Jumerati post office in old city,” says Rasool Khan, a native of Jumerati area. Octogenarian Rameshwar Thakur, a resident of Bhopal Talkies area claims this was the only place in Bhopal, where a tricolour was hoisted on the India became a free country.

The dilapidated structure of the postal department is still a proud existence here, while locals have no clue about the historical significance of this building.

Pakistan’s support had left Khan a confused man and he was still undecided when India attained freedom on August 15. Jinnah invited him to Pakistan by offering him the post of Secretary General while Khan wanted his daughter Abida Sultan to take over as the administrator of Bhopal. But she declined.

In March 1948, he announced that Bhopal would remain a free state and formed his cabinet with Chaturnarayan Malviya as the Prime Minister. However, a rebellion started within the state with the demand that they merge with India.

Soon after Khan left for Haj in October 1948, an agitation began in December 1948. Meanwhile, then Home Minister Sardar Patel made it clear that Bhopal could not be an independent state within the territory of India and had to be merged with the rest of the country. With pressure mounting, the Nawab finally dissolved the cabinet and took the reins in his hands to deal with the protests.

Following three months of unprecedented rebellion, Khan was forced to sign the Agreement of Accession on April 29, 1949. After an administrative process, Bhopal was officially merged with the Indian state on June 1, 1949.

| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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