Operation polo

Hyderabad, as we know of it today, is a part of India. But it was not so in the past.

September 16, 2015 02:43 pm | Updated 02:43 pm IST

The Nizam's forces: In Hyderabad. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Nizam's forces: In Hyderabad. Photo: Special Arrangement

In 1724, Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah established Hyderabad, a state that spread over most of the Deccan plateau. Not only did it become popular, it was also prosperous as it had its own army, railway and airline network, postal system and a radio network. Eighty five per cent of the Nizam’s subjects were Hindus. In 1798, the Royal state of Hyderabad was the first to agree to British protection under the policy of Subsidiary Alliance.

In 1947, when the British left India, they gave the princely states the choice to either join India or Pakistan or remain independent. Being one state not under the British rule, it opposed the idea of a merger with India after Independence.

In 1947, Home Minister Sardar Patel requested Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad, to join India, but he refused. Instead, he declared Hyderabad as an independent nation on August 15, 1947.

It was in June 1948 that Lord Mountbatten proposed the Heads of Agreement deal which gave Hyderabad the status of an autonomous dominion nation under India. India was ready to sign the deal and did so but the Nizam refused on the grounds that he wanted complete independence or the status of dominion under the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Preparations in progress

The chaos, the unclear negotiations and rumours that Hyderabad was arming itself with support from the Portuguese administration in Goa and Pakistan, led to communal clashes and added to tension.

The idea of Hyderabad arming itself aided by Pakistan did not go down well with the Indian Government. Sardar Patel described the idea of an independent Hyderabad as “an ulcer in the heart of India which needed to be removed surgically.” This was when talks between India and Hyderabad started and India decided to annex Hyderabad. This operation was named “Operation Polo” and it is also referred to as “Operation Caterpillar” at times.

Though it was only a five-day war that began in September 13 and lasted till September 18, it was significant as the Indian Army took over a powerful state and Hyderabad was attached to India.

A state of Emergency was declared when 36,000 Indian troops entered Hyderabad because the government was apprehensive about how the rest of India would react. It is estimated that 32 were killed and 97 injured on the Indian side and 490 killed and 122 wounded from Hyderabad.

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