Claimants for Andaman and Nicobar Islands
· Netaji Bose had renamed the Islands as Shaheed and Swaraj Islands
· By retaining, Mountbatten hoped to use the Islands as a naval base
· Ultimately, he handed them to Nehru, despite Jinnah’s repeated claims
Dr. Hari Desai writes weekly column “Heritage History” for “Asian Voice”, the Newsweekly of ABPL Group, London 16-22 March 2019 Web Link : https://bit.ly/2Chb6L2
· While going through “Jinnah Papers” published by the Government of Pakistan, one letter dated 5 July 1947, to the secretary of state for India from Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the first Governor-General of Pakistan claiming the Andaman and Nicobar Islands makes one curious to find during research many more claimants of the strategic location of nearly more than 500 islands. Of course, today the Union Territory is one of the precious geographic territories of India.
· The chiefs of staff of the British army examined the question of keeping their hold over parts of India, which were not in the mainland. The report dated 13 June 1947, by the Joint Planning Staff of the British Army stated: we can exclude the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the transfer of power. The same day, the Indian and Burma Committee of the British cabinet considered the report of the chiefs of staff. In their minutes they stated, ‘The claim by Pandit Nehru is that Hindustan will automatically succeed to the position of India as an international entity... and Pakistan is merely a seceding minority”. The Islands became part of the Indian Republic with Partition. Mountbatten handed them to Nehru, despite Jinnah’s repeated claims, because in his view the Republic of India was the inheritor of the legacy of nationalist struggle and thereby of the Andamans, which were a sacred symbol of this struggle. It’s a different matter that Mountbatten had hoped to use the Islands’ as a British naval base.
· The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been inhabited for several thousand years, at the very least. The earlier archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years; however, the indications from genetic, cultural and linguistic isolation studies point to habitation going back 30,000 – 60,000 years, well into the Middle Paleolithic.