Revealing the other side of the story

A.G. Noorani’s book The Destruction of Hyderabad provides a rare insight into the events in the run-up to the 1948 Police Action in Hyderabad State

Updated - November 16, 2021 11:15 pm IST

Published - November 29, 2013 12:39 am IST - Hyderabad:

A.G. Noorani

A.G. Noorani

Even as there is a demand to declassify the Sunderlal Committee report on the massacre of Muslims in Hyderabad in wake of 1948 Police Action, the confidential report is actually out. One can now read the graphic account of what happened in the erstwhile Hyderabad State a year after partition of the country.

Noted lawyer and political commentator A.G. Noorani has laid hands on the controversial report which is yet to see the light of the day although some of the details have come out over the years. In his latest book titled The Destruction of Hyderabad , the legal expert lays bare the government-commissioned report word to word.

“The massacre that followed was hushed up. The inquiry report was suppressed and the entire administrative set-up was turned upside down. A valuable culture was devastated,” writes Mr. Noorani in the book, which is slated for release on Friday.

Diplomatic exchanges

There is no dearth of books on the merger of Hyderabad with the Indian Union, but Mr. Noorani tries to tell the story of fall of Hyderabad through the official historical account. In this endeavour, he relies heavily on the largely unexplored data available in the Andhra Pradesh State Archives and Research Institute.

He quotes extensively the diplomatic exchanges between the government of India and government of Hyderabad during British rule and after Independence.

According to Mr. Noorani, the tragedy of Hyderabad was only fait accompli once the British rule in the Indian sub-continent ended on August 15, 1947. “Only statesmanship could have averted it, but it was in short supply at that time,” he says.

The 375-page book provides a rare insight into the events in the run up to the invasion of Hyderabad State by the Indian Army.

Military operation

Mr. Noorani refers to the incongruity of the military operation being styled as ‘police action’ and says Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel differed on the military option.

While Nehru wanted military option to be the last resort, Patel wanted it to be the first.

Mr. Noorani calls Nehru an ardent ‘Indian nationalist’ and Patel a ‘Hindu nationalist’ and explains in depth their differences on many things, including the Quit India movement. He further writes how Nehru had contempt for the Nizam’s set-up, but bore no malice towards him personally, while Patel hated the Nizam personally and ideologically opposed Hyderabad’s composite culture.

“Nehru wanted to avoid India’s balkanisation by defeating Hyderabad’s secessionist venture. Patel wanted to go further. He wanted to destroy Hyderabad and its culture completely,” Mr. Noorani writes in his forthcoming book.

He also brings out the ‘fateful intervention’ of Mohammed Ali Jinnah in destruction of Hyderabad.

The feudal order of the Nizam, Mr. Noorani says, deserved to be discarded, but the violent change to democratic order made the transition more painful with lasting consequences.

However, Mr. Noorani is happy that the distinct Deccani culture with all its graces and refinements still existed.

“Culture is what matters when much else is destroyed,” he says.

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