Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nehru considered bombing Travancore

From Volume X of the Transfer of Power papers:

Minutes of the Viceroy's Eighth Staff Meeting
2nd April 1947
His Excellency the Viceroy added that he had great faith that, if Pandit Nehru could be caught at the right moment, there was no man more quickly able to shed all traces of emotionalism. It was, however, necessary to choose the right moment - as was shown by an incident at the previous day's Cabinet meeting. A report had come forward that Travancore had made an agreement with a "foreign" power (which was presumably Great Britain) over the disposal of her uranium deposits. [footnote] Pandit Nehru had been by no means dispassionate over this issue, and had in the end declared that he would, in the extreme, send the Indian Air Force to bomb Travancore.
 PS: Jan 10, 2015:
Transfer of Power papers, Vol IX, #469 is dated February 26, 1947, from Field Marshall Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence.  Excerpts, and the above-mentioned note 6 are given below.
9. Merrell's No. 2 {probably Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi} in the American Embassy came to see my Deputy Private Secretary soon after His Majesty's Government's Statement was made.   He enquired about the Governments to which His Majesty's Government would hand over power in the absence of an agreed constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly.  He asked whether it was the intention that His Majesty's Government would make treaties with the Indian States if there was not an all-India constitution.  He asked particularly, with a slightly meaning look, about Travancore [6], and mentioned that Kalat might well have oil.
 [6] In January 1947 the Government of Travancore issued a communiqué announcing that in collaboration with a British firm who would supply the technical knowledge, they were setting up a factory for the production of thorium, a substance of importance in the development of atomic energy, from the State's deposits of monazite sand.  The arrangements agreed contemplated 'the export to the United Kingdom for a limited period of a limited quantity of surplus monazite and of the factory's output of thorium nitrate, save for what may be required in India'.