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Sultan Bazar: One city, two governments

The bustling Sultan Bazar street near Koti. Photo: G. Ramakrishna  

Imagine Hyderabad when Abids was ‘ruled’ by one government and the neighbouring Muazzamjahi Market area by another, each with its own laws, rules and administrative structures. Wait, don’t dismiss it as nonsense.

Take it or toss it, that indeed was the position in Hyderabad for nearly a century until 1933 when wisdom and better sense prevailed on the British and the Nizam’s governments and the areas came under one governing canopy. This lesser known story is about the restoration or rendition of the Residency Bazaars (Sultan Bazaar) territory by the British to the Nizam’s Government and the celebration that marked the June 14 transfer.

When the population reached saturation levels in the walled city, people spilled over to the other side of the Musi. Soon clusters of houses and shops came up around the Residency, the seat of the British Resident, in what is now called Kothi. These clusters swelled into a suburb over the years. Locals and immigrants from the north lived and conducted flourishing business while Christian missionaries set up churches and other institutions here.

These people felt a sense of security in the patronage and protective environment of the Residency. The area came to be known as Residency Bazaars or Sultan Bazar. An informal boundary line divided the British-controlled territory and the Nizam’s. Though the existence of a separate administrative machinery with judicial and revenue institutions for a small part of the City had not gone down well with the people or with the Nizam, it remained an indefensible anomaly.

Prolonged negotiations took place before the issue figured at the round table conference of political parties convened by the British Crown in London in November 1930. The British Government agreed to restore the Residency Bazaars to the Nizam. Col. T. H. Keyes, the British Resident during whose time the territory was restored, and Sir Akbar Hydari, the Nizam’s representative, played a crucial role. The Keyes Girls’ High School in Secunderabad is named after the Resident.

The formal rendition took place on June 14, 1933 amid scenes of wild jubilation as the people had been looking forward to it for long. It was a dream come true. They went round the area in a victory procession. K. Krishnaswamy Mudiraj, compiler of the well-known Pictorial Hyderabad (1940) and scion of a family that had served the Asaf Jahi dynasty for generations, provides a graphic account of the handing over ceremony. Lt. Col. Amir Sultan, deputy commissioner of city police took over charge from de la Condamine Ozanne, superintendent of Cantonment Police. Thousands cheered as the Nizam’s police in buff coloured uniform replaced their khaki-clad British Constabulary on duty at the Residency area.

At another function at the Imperial Bank (now SBI on Bank Street), a company of Hyderabad Infantry replaced the British military at the stroke of noon while the Asaf Jahi flag fluttered on the building alongside the Union Jack. The ceremony was over in 30 minutes. Curtains thus came down on diarchy in parts of Hyderabad.

Sultan Bazar, a bustling commercial centre, is home to a century and half old government school, a landmark clock tower and some heritage buildings facing demolition to make way for Hyderabad Metro Rail project. The clock tower had been witness to many demonstrations by the nationalist forces against the Nizam’s rule. Nearby is the 114-year old Sri Krishnadevaraya Andhra Bhasha Nilayam.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 10:48:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Sultan-Bazar-One-city-two-governments/article14404905.ece

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