Chandannagar voted in favour of a merger with India - [June 19, 1949] This Day in History

19 June 1949

Chandannagar voted in favour of a merger with India

What happened?

The people of the French colony of Chandannagar, formerly called Chandernagore, voted in favour of merging with the Indian Union in a plebiscite conducted by the French government. In today’s edition of This Day in History, you can read all about how the former French colony of Chandannagar merged with India as part of the Union, for the UPSC Exam modern history as well as polity segments.

Chandannagar Merger – Background

  • Currently, Chandannagar is a city situated about 35 km north of Kolkata in the Indian State of West Bengal.
  • At the time of Indian independence from Britain in 1947, Chandannagar, along with Mahe, Puducherry, Karaikal and Yanam were French colonies.
  • Curiously, unlike the other French possessions in India, Chandannagar started raising voices of protest against French rule only after the British had left India. The place, however, produced and hosted many revolutionaries of Bengal who fought against the British.
  • The French first established a colony in Chandannagar in 1673 after buying the land from the then Nawab of Bengal, Ibrahim Khan.
  • The place became a permanent settlement of the French in 1688. Joseph Dupleix became the city’s governor in 1730.
  • At that time, the British and the French were competing for supremacy in the Indian subcontinent.
  • In 1757, the British captured Chandannagar from the French after the Battle of Chandannagar. In this battle that took place on 23rd March 1757, British forces led by Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Weston bombarded and captured the city.
  • In 1763, it was given back to the French who again lost the city’s control to the British in 1794 during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1816, the French were returned control of the city including a surrounding area of 3 square miles. Chandannagar remained a French possession until 1950.
  • Chandannagar was under Pondicherry (Puducherry) like all other French possessions in India.
  • On 8th June 1948, the French government had an agreement with the Indian government under which it declared that the people of the French colonies in India would have the right to choose their own future status.
  • The French government conducted a plebiscite on 19th June 1949 in which a whopping 97% of the people voted in favour of a merger with India. 7463 votes were received in favour of the merger and 114 against it.
  • The administration of the city was taken over by the Indian government on 2nd May 1950. On 2nd February 1951, a treaty was signed in Paris between India and France under which Chandannagar was ceded to the Indian government. This treaty was called the Treaty of Cession of the territory of the free town of Chandernagore.
  • On 9th June 1952, the city was transferred to India de jure.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India issued a notification on 19th August 1952 under which all personnel like civil servants and other government employees working in Chandannagar were taken over by the Indian government.
  • On 19th November 1953, a commission was set up chaired by Dr. Amarnath Jha to ascertain the wishes of the people of Chandannagar.
  • The commission submitted its report which asked for the establishment of a Municipal Corporation in Chandannagar. It also stated that facilities should be provided for the development of French culture, and that both Hindi and French should be taught. French government-controlled secondary schools would be maintained by the state government.
  • On 2nd October 1954, Chandannagar merged with the state of West Bengal through the Chandernagore (Merger) Act, 1954.
Also on this day

1966: The Shiv Sena was established by Bal Thackeray. 1982: APPLE, India’s first indigenous communication satellite was launched.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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