Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji is renowned through out the world for successfully enduring the pioneering conservation endeavor which protected and saved the final few Asiatic Lions in the world that existed on his state at the time and was on the verge of extinction.
Early Life of Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III
Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji was born on 2 August 1900 at Junagadh. His ancestors had reigned over the state of Junagadh and other small principalities for around two hundred years. He was the 4th son of His Highness Nawab Sir Muhammad Rasul Khanji, GCSI, who ruled over the princely state from 1892 to 1911. As he the fourth son of the ruling chief, Nawabzada Mahabat Khanji was not expected to succeed to the royal throne or musnaid of the princely state of Junagadh. But as all three of his elder brothers died by the time he reached eight years of age, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III was made heir apparent and succeeded his father Muhammad Rasul Khanji after his death in the year 1911, by ascending the throne of Junagadh.
Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji completed his education from the Mayo College in Ajmer. As he was still a minor at the time of his ascession, the Nawab of Junagadh ruled under a regent until he reached the age of majority. His formal accession was on 31 March 1920 and was invested with full ruling powers.
Rule of Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III
Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji took charge of the administration of the princely state Junagadh after his accession. He also managed and supervised the internal affairs of the state. The state was under the indirect control of the British Empire in India. The association of the state with the British Government of India and other territories was managed by a Resident of British India, also known as a British political agent. In the year 1921, Mahabat Khanji was promoted to a personal gun salute of 15 guns and a local gun salute of 13 guns. Later in the year 1926, the nawab of the princely state was knighted by the British Government of India. During his reign, the Willingdon Dam was constructed and the Bahadur Khanji library was also opened. He also supervised the establishment of the Mahabat Khan College
Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III was renowned for his tremendous love of animals, especially dogs. He comprised of nearly three hundred dogs at one point and later spent huge amounts of money on celebrations of birthdays of his favourite pets. His compassion for regional wild animals also helped in the conservation of the Asiatic lion, which faced almost certain extinction. He was also concerned about developing animal husbandry in his state and his various efforts improved the breeding stock of the Gir cows and the regional Kathiawadi stallions.
Accession of Junagadh State
After the Indian independence from the British rule and the partition of India in the year 1947, all of the former Indian princely states were ordered to join either the Union of India or the Dominion of Pakistan. Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, who was the last Nawab of the princely state, decided to accede the state to the newly formed Dominion of Pakistan on 15 August 1947, much to the discontent of the state's population, as most of them were Hindus. Even though the princely state was bounded by the Union of India on three sides and shared no direct border with Pakistan, the native ruler acceded to Pakistan on 15 September 1947, against the suggestion of Lord Mountbatten.
Pakistan acknowledged the Instrument of Accession of the Nawab on 16 September and the Indian Government became outraged with Pakistan's acceptance the accession of the state of Junagadh. The Government of India was convinced that if the state was acceded to Pakistan, communal tension would degenerate and refused to accept the option of accession of the Nawab. India called for a plebiscite to settle the issue of accession and the Government of India was invited by the court of Junagadh on 7th November to take over the administration of the former princely state. On 9 November, the Indian Army took over Junagadh state and appointed a new governor. It called for a public referendum on the status of the state. In February 1948, a plebiscite was conducted and the direct votes of all the members of the electorate unanimously went in favour of accession to India. On 20 January 1949, the former princely state of Junagadh was merged with the new state of Saurashtra.
Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, along with his family and his dogs went to Pakistan by plane on 24 October 1947. He was also accompanied by Shah Nawaz Bhutto, his prime minister.
Personal Life of Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III
After Mahabat Khanji's exile from the state of Junagadh, he and his family resided at Karachi. The last Nawab of Junagadh died at the age of 59 on 17 November 1959, after a reign of 48 years.
Title of Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III
Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, the Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh, held several titles and styles through out his reign. These are mention below-
* Nawabzada Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji (1900- 1908)
* Wali Ahad Bahadur Nawabzada Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji (1908- 1911)
* His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh (1911- 1926)
* His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, KCSI (1926- 1931)
* His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, GCIE, KCSI (1931- 1937)
* Captain His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, GCIE, KCSI (1937- 1942)
* Major His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, GCIE, KCSI (1942- 1946)
* Colonel His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, GCIE, KCSI (1946- 1957)
* Colonel His Highness Sri Diwan Nawab Sir Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji, Nawab Sahib of Junagadh, GCIE, KCSI, NQA (1957- 1959)
Honours of Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III
Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III Rasul Khanji of Junagadh were honoured many times whish are discussed as follows-
* Delhi Durbar Medal (1911)
* Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India- KCSI (1926)
* Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire- GCIE (1931)
* King George V Silver Jubilee Medal (1935)
* King George VI Coronation Medal (1937)
* Pakistan Independence Medal (1948)
* Order of the Great Leader, 1st Class- Nishan E-Quaid I-Azam (1957)