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Momentous day for lovers of freedom, democracy

By K.Venkateshwarlu

HYDERABAD, SEPT. 16. Ye jung hai jung-e-azadi, azadi ke parcham ke tale...(It is a war, the war of independence, of the myriad souls....).

Around this time, 56 years ago, this soul-stirring marching song penned by Hyderabad's own liberal Leftist poet, Maqdoom Mohiuddin, inspired many a young lover of freedom to take a plunge into the struggle for the liberation of Hyderabad State. But the adamant Nizam remained unmoved and failed to see the writing on the wall.

Far from gracefully accepting the public mood against his autocratic rule, the Nizam went on to declare Hyderabad an independent state, pompously claimed to unfurl the Asafia flag on the Red Fort, threatened to accede the State to Pakistan, sent an emissary to Britain and even sought UN intervention. Yet, it took just four days and 13 hours, beginning September 13, 1948, for the Indian Army to tame the "mighty" Nizam's Army.

Nizam's surrender

"Operation Polo", as the famous "Police Action" was codenamed to couch what was basically a military operation, brought down the curtains on a tyrannical era. And when the people of the erstwhile Hyderabad State encompassing Telangana and parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra, the largest Princely State, woke up on the dawn of September 17, 1948, they heard the big news of the Nizam's surrender, dubbed one of the meekest in history. It not only freed people from enslavement, but facilitated the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union, an event they had been long pining for.

The best picture of the times that captured one of the decisive moments in Hyderabad's chequered history said it all. Here was "His Exalted Highness, Lt. Gen Muzaffar-ul Mulk Wal Mumalik Nizam- ul-Mulk, Nizam-ud-Dowla, Nawab Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, the Faithful Ally of the British, Nizam of Hyderabad," arguably one of the richest men in the world, nearly bowing with a traditional "namaste" before the redoubtable first Indian Union Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, at the Begumpet Airport.

Significant achievement

Notwithstanding the wrangling among the present day political parties and whether the celebrations should be official or not, September 17 continues to be a momentous day for old Hyderabadis when they got the hard earned freedom after several flip flops, a full 13 months after Indian independence. In commemorating the event, they cannot forget but recall the chilling accounts of armed marauders of Razakars, a militia raised by Kasim Razvi of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, with covert support from the Nizam's Government, raiding villages, maiming people, looting and raping women.

Common goal

The Hyderabad liberation struggle was essentially a three-pronged movement fought often jointly and occasionally against one another by the Congress, the communists and the Arya Samajis. Notwithstanding their ideological differences, they fought for achieving the common goal.

"The Nizam paid for his mistakes. He remained stubborn not accepting any of the conciliatory efforts made by Jawaharlal Nehru. He was offered full protection and 40 per cent representation to Muslims in the constitution of a responsible government, though their population was 12 per cent. Exhausting all options, the Nehru Government sent the army," recalls Burgula Narsinga Rao, a student activist of that time.

"It was a unique struggle encompassing the fight against the despotic rule of the Nizam and feudal system, merger of Hyderabad State into the Indian Union and the armed campaign for land to the tiller," said Ch. Rajeswara Rao, who had participated in the Telangana armed struggle. His compatriot and close associate of Maqdoom, Raj Bahadur Gour, adds, "The land reforms initiated by the first popular government of Burgula Ramakrishna Rao were the best and unparalleled in the country."

All of them are amused at the desperate attempts of the BJP leaders, to bask in the reflected glory. "They have absolutely no right. The BJP was not even born. The only Hindu group that existed was the one-man Hindu Mahasabha led by Keskar. They are wrongly co-opting Arya Samaj, an organisation formed essentially to reform Hinduism," said Mr. Narsinga Rao.

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