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Updated: August 14, 2012 09:41 IST

How the Nizam lost Hyderabad in 1948

K. Venkateshwarlu
Comment (10)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

Hyderabad, the largest princely state at the time of Indian independence was caught in a confusing web, partly of its own making. Bred on the delusion of born to rule, always protected by the British and egged on by Razakars, a volunteer militia, the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, was pitching for independent sovereign state. Often susceptible to wrong advice, the Nizam took the “dispute” of Hyderabad’s future to the U.N Security Council even while preposterously considering the option of merging Hyderabad with newly carved out Pakistan. On the other hand, India was furiously pursuing Hyderabad to join the Indian Union adopting a carrot and stick policy authored by Sardar Vallabbhai Patel.

Patel was gearing up to launch a military operation euphemistically called Police Action. Congress, Arya Samajis and Communists were running freedom movements both for the liberation of Hyderabad from Nizam’s rule and an end to feudalism. The period preceding the liberation of Hyderabad State on September 17, 1948, a full 13 months after Indian independence, was turbulent to say the least. In his memoir, Mohammed Hyder, brings alive all these aspects lucidly weaving facts of history with his own annotations based on interactions with some of the most powerful state and non-state actors of the time who shaped the destiny of Hyderabad.

Using to full effect his situation as man at ground zero during that critical transition period, the Hyderabad Civil Service officer comes up with a balanced narrative shorn off exaggerations. As Collector of Osmanabad, (now part of Maharashtra) a large politically sensitive border district of Hyderabad State he had several unenviable tasks. The most challenging was tackling “violent raids” by the Congress from Indian territory “to cripple civil administration and provoke annexation” and reining-in the armed Razakars, floated by Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen who took upon themselves the task of protecting Muslims and the Muslim rule.

The book is actually an edited version of Hyder’s tenure in Osmanabad written by him in jail in July and August of 1949. He was in jail after the new Hyderabad Government suspended and arrested him and slapped 23 cases including 14 murders, arson and loot — an ordeal undergone by several officers of the time.

The Hyderabad question, he observes, had become a major unresolved issue at the beginning of 1947, no less worrying than Kashmir. In a dispassionate dissection of the unfolding situation, he presents the causes, the differing perceptions and perspectives of the turmoil and the Nizam’s as well as the Muslims’ dilemma. At the level popular politics there was one overwhelming fact, he explains: “Hyderabad was predominantly Hindu with Muslims representing some 20 per cent of the population. From one perspective its political arrangements were self evidently undemocratic, with an autocratic Muslim ruler at the head of the system and a small, apparently reactionary Muslim ruling class dominating its administration and political life”.

Expectedly he finds a contrasting perception inside the ruling system: “Hyderabad was viewed as a state blessed with a remarkably secular outlook, enjoying communal harmony, with a benign ruler concerned with the advancement of the poor and the protection of the oppressed; an excellent administration … and an eclectic ruling elite …”

Turning point

Probing political and social processes, the author considers the huge demonstration in Hyderabad city by Razakars led by Majlis leader, Syed Qasim Razvi in October 1947 against the administration’s decision to sign “Standstill Agreement” as a “turning point”. The agreement between Hyderabad and the Indian Union spoke of maintaining status quo on the status of the princely state pending accession.

It was this demonstration in front of the houses of the Prime Minister, Nawab of Chattari, advisor, Sir Walter Monckton and Minister, Nawab Ali Nawaz Jung, the main negotiators, the author says, forced them to call off their Delhi visit to sign the agreement. It was treated as “a triumph for Qasim Razvi over the rule, the Government and the people of Hyderabad” and perceived as “October coup”.

In a chapter devoted to Razvi and his phenomenal rise from a small time lawyer in Lathur to a larger than life Majlis leader, Hyder lays threadbare his persona and philosophy, based on a marathon conversation. Questions he posed and the responses he got provide insights into Razvi, often reviled by a section as the man who sowed the seeds of communal divide in Hyderabad with his infamous mission. How could a Muslim minority headed by a Muslim ruler, continue to dominate a vast and politically conscious Hindu majority in Hyderabad? To Hyder’s query, Razvi’s responses were sharp: “The Nizams have ruled Hyderabad for over two hundred years in unbroken line ... The system must have some good in it if it has lasted two hundred years. Do you agree? ... We Muslims rule because we are more fit to rule ... We rule and they [Hindus] own! It is a good arrangement and they know it!” How could Hyderabad avoid accession to the Indian Union? Could India accept the disintegration that might result if Hyderabad stayed out? Razvi shot back, “India is a geographic notion. Hyderabad is a political reality. Are we prepared to sacrifice the reality of Hyderabad for the idea of India?” Hyder says Razvi foresaw a time when Muslims would once again become rulers of India and the Nizam, ruler of Delhi, if only he followed his advice!

Hyder says he was not really impressed and recalls how he came back from the meeting frustrated rather than inspired. For him it seemed “absurd and frightening that this little man could make his position of mastery over Hyderabad”. He concedes that the views Razvi shared certainly existed in Hyderabad Muslim society then, though representing its lowest common denominator.

In the later chapters, Hyder moves on to his own struggle as Collector, his long legal battle with the new Government that took over after the merger of Hyderabad with a series of documentation that makes reading a bit heavy and taxing.

He concludes by highlighting the fallacy of interpreting Hyderabad’s status and its confrontation with India during 1947-48 from the Indian lens of aspirations of nationalist movement, totally ignoring the concerns of a smaller State being hustled into accession. He goes on to compare Indian perspective and Hyderabad’s dilemma to Thucydides’ narrative of the capitulation of the people of the small island of Melos by the mighty Athens. For those craving to know more about Hyderabad’s not so recent history of merger, this is the book.

OCTOBER COUP: — A Memoir of the Struggle for Hyderabad: Mohammed Hyder; Roli Books Pvt. Ltd., M-75, Greater Kailash II Market, New Delhi-110048. Rs. 295.

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Some one is trying to make his living by writing a book with no reality but creating some funny thought provoking issues ,otherwise the kidding book does not make any sense at all.

from:  VReddy
Posted on: Aug 15, 2012 at 21:05 IST

The article provides some interesting historical developments and insights between the Nizam,his Advisors, the Nizam holding out for an "independent secular Hyderabad" and its subsequent take over by the Indian Union during the turbulent period of 1947-48 . As a young boy of around eight years growing up in Belgaum, I witnessed first hand the deployment of vast numbers of Indian Troops on their way to Hyderabad to ensure no misadventure on the part of the Nizam or his Advisors. Even then at that tender age I realized that this was no mere "Police Action" as it was euphemistically termed

from:  Ivan DCosta
Posted on: Aug 15, 2012 at 08:58 IST

Why is the author silent about the genocide and other horrible crimes committed by the Razakars? Was it not the duty of democratic India to end those atrocities and liberate the oppressed people who were crying for merger with India? Could India afford to remain deaf to their cries? Unfortunately, a very unbalanced article.

from:  Tony
Posted on: Aug 15, 2012 at 06:36 IST

I think the Nizam wanted Hyderabad to be left alone as a secular state, as he had stated many times that his one eye is for Hindus and the other for the Muslims along with Parsees, Christians, etc. But unfortunately Razvi was the spanner in the works, or stick in the mud! At that time the Nizam's advisers were hounded by Razvi and his Razakars, and they were sitting on the fence, so to speak

from:  Madigan
Posted on: Aug 15, 2012 at 05:31 IST

Recently we heard from an visiting 87 yr old senior citizen narrating us as to what had happened during the Nizam’s rule. Hindu must collect that info first hand and write an article or two about the same. Urdu was so strictly imposed on all telangana districts, much more beyond the city where only telugus were living, that they forgot to read and write telugu those days. The urdu teachers used to beat up those students who were not good in the language. This was independently confirmed by another senior citizen who visited us recently (we get a lot of senor citizen visitors here in USA, we ask and gather that treasure of information directly from the source). Draconian tax laws were imposed and enacted squeezing every morsel of grain away from the poor farmers, they were starving while Nizam’s extended family and higher level administrators used to go abroad during summer months, and continued building palacious mahals in the city. It is strange why there wasn’t any revolution against the Nawab for such a long time. I guess most people were busy fighting the bigger enemy, the British.

from:  suma
Posted on: Aug 15, 2012 at 02:56 IST

The above posters are absolutely right. Hyderabad is a closed chapter. There was nothing elevating, uplifting or progressive about the Nizam and his followers' attempts to resist accession to India. Particularly when the majority wanted to be part of the new India. Hyderabad and all the other princely states simply had to be dissolved for India to progress.

from:  Varun Shekhar
Posted on: Aug 14, 2012 at 22:46 IST

People of Hyderabad state knows better about the period after India got independence, Razakars started violence, bloodshed against the people remembers till today...........

from:  satya
Posted on: Aug 14, 2012 at 22:31 IST

Dear Nachiketh and Anil - events in history are complex and cannot be simplified by just looking at them from one viewpoint and ignoring all others. This is review of a book which is telling story from writer's perspective. For other perspectives (Indian included), there are other books that one can read. Read the book to know what were the motivations and dynamics of the incumbent.

from:  Sandeep
Posted on: Aug 14, 2012 at 20:46 IST

Reality is Hyderabad is a part of India and all Hindus and Muslim community have to accept it and forget Nizam which is a story in history . If I consider Mr.Razvi's statement then yes , Nizam had some good in them and that is he came to power by central Mughal powers and remained loyal with british till end . Nizam's personal wealth also states the undemocatic features of his ruling .

from:  anil
Posted on: Aug 14, 2012 at 13:58 IST

Dear Hindu, why are you giving publicity to such books? What Patel did
was absolutely right. The idea of an Islamic state in the middle of an
independent India was unacceptable. Why don't you mention about the
horrible crimes committed by the Razakars including the killing of men
and raping of women. Instead of writing about the heroic efforts of the
Indian army to liberate Hyderabad, why are you giving undue importance
to such kind of books. Please don't undermine the legacy of Sardar Patel
by writing about such books. I humble request you.

from:  Nachiketh
Posted on: Aug 14, 2012 at 11:24 IST
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