Amer Arafath

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 drafted by the British was a paradoxical one with seeds of hatred sowed in it. On one side, it granted independence to India and on other side it created the partition that shook just-born independent country, which was blossoming up from the wrath and tyrannical colonial rule after couple of centuries. The two nation theory became a reality very soon since its ideological inception merely two decades earlier with two nations craving out within British India - India and Pakistan (East & West). The bloodshed partition not only divided people on geographical lines but also on the lines of religion and ethnicity. There was widespread chaos, confusion, rumours regarding the partition and its consequences in sluggishness of mainstream communication in those days. According to Talbot's book, The Partition of India, about 2 Million people were killed and more than 14 Million people were displaced from their homes in the communal holocaust which was marked as the darkest phase in the history of mankind.

The main hooligan of this violent phase of carnage was Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. On June 3rd 1947, he came with a infamous 'Mountbatten Plan', which gave three options to the then 552 princely states viz., To join India or To join Pakistan or To remain independent, thereby creating uncertainty in air over their sovereignty and future political discourse. After partition, the utmost significant work was the unification of India under one administration. This phase saw the rise of Patel-Nehru duo, who possessed masterful diplomacy, wisdom and realism. All among the Princely states joined India except three states viz., Junagadh, Kashmir and Hyderabad.

Fate of Three Princely States

a) Junagadh - It was a situated on Saurashtra coast, annexed into India through Plebiscite held in February 1948.

b) Kashmir - The then Maharaja Hari Singh, ruler of Kashmir signed an Instrument of Accession with India on 26th October 1948.

c) Hyderabad - It was annexed into India through Police action of 1948.

Integration of Hyderabad - Background

The Hyderabad was the largest and most developed among all the princely states of British India. Geographically, it was almost at the centre of India and it comprised majority region of Deccan Plateau. The population was Hindu preponderance but it was ruled by the minority Muslim king of Asafjah dynasty, The VIIthNizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, was a bigot and not a visionary ruler. The Indian government saw the emergence of theocracy in affairs of state. Also, he made many blunders while dealing diplomatically with Indian Union and also with the British. He also failed to convince Lord Mountbatten to give Hyderabad, a status of an independent constitutional monarchy under the British Commonwealth of Nations. Later, he began negotiations with the Portuguese, seeking their help from Goa to provide his state with access to the sea for bringing weaponry from the developed nations. He resorted to cunning tactics like prolonging negotiations as he signed standstill agreement with India in November 1947 for one year which granted provisions of handling foreign affairs to India. Meanwhile, he used this time to build his military strength and private militia - The Razakars, fearing Hindu civil uprising by the leaders of Hindu Mahasabha, Hyderabad State Congress and Arya Samaj. By then, the Telangana region of Hyderabad state was witnessed with the communist uprisings from 1946 due to the repressions and violence committed by the big landlords with the help of Razakars. They abused human rights of the landless labourers and exploited them to the very core. He violated the terms of Standstill agreement by giving 20 crores financial help to Pakistan. Nizam brought weapons via air from Bidar and Mannaurand got it transported to Hyderabad by road. Sydney Cotton (Pilot in World War –II) was given the responsibility of bringing the weapons. This information was leaked by the Rao brothers (Veerabhadra Rao and Ramachandra Rao) to the Indian government. Nizam, on other hand accused India of attempting an economic blockade around the state. Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen under QasimRazvi gave a slogan 'Freedom for Hyderabad and Hyderabadis and No agreement with India'. When QasimRazvi was invited to Delhi for talks with VP Menon (Secretary of Home Dept) and SardarVallabhai Patel (Home Minister of India), he reacted strongly and said “Any such proposal will be answered by a Sword” and “Asafjahi flag wil be hoisted at Red fort in Delhi”. Mir Laiq Ali, the Prime Minister of Nizam, entered into an agreement with Communists to fight with one common enemy (India) and hence the ban on Communists was lifted on 4th May 1948.The Communist party of Hyderabad unit under DevulapallyVenkateshwar Rao made a call for Azad Hyderabad which irked the Indian government. Meanwhile, another rounds of negotiations were prepared by VP Menon and Mir Laiq Ali on 15th June 1948 under 'Heads of Agreement' which offered Hyderabad the status of an 'autonomous dominion' under India but it was outrightly rejected by the Nizam.

Police Action (1948)

On 12th September, MA Jinnah, as oftenly called as 'Quaid-e-Azam' in Pakistan died due to lung cancer and pneumonia. He was officially mourned by India though he was one of the persons responsible for the partition. Nehru used this opportunity as Pakistan would be busy in mourning its leader and therefore gave a green signal to launch 'Operation Polo' (also known as Operation Caterpillar) the very next day, on 13th September 1948. The army raided by capturing Naldurg fort on Solapur-Hyderabad highway. This police action had three intentions.

a) To save the people of Hyderabad from the atrocities of the Razakars

b) To crush the armed struggle led by the Communists

c) To merge Hyderabad state into Indian Union

Indian army made 'Goddard plan' during the Operation Polo. According to it, army would enter Solapur from Western side under General JN Chaudhari, who later on went to became the Military Governor of Hyderabad (1948-52) and General Rudra would enter Vijayawada (Bezawada) from eastern side. The overall command was placed in hands of Lt.Gen.RajendraSinghji. There is a bitter truth associated with this operation that India used airplanes in it, making it as a lone country across the globe to use airplanes against its own people. The physical absence of Nizam on border brought down the morale of his army. He was mere sitting in his Durbar and was relied on his General and Prime Minister. The action ended on 17th September as Nizam said "The vultures have resigned and I don’t know what to do". At 4pm on 18 September, Major General Al-Eldroos surrender to JN Chaudhari and announced ceasefire.

Hyderabad Case - At UNO

The Nizam of Hyderabad lodged a complaint against the India (Under Article 35 (2) of UN Charter) with the President of the Security Council of UNO on 21st August 1948 via cablegram.Again on 12th September, he made a second complaint. India chose to call it as a 'police action' despite it was military in nature so as to send strong signals in international community that it was an internal matter and not to get pressure from UNO. On 17th September, the emergency meeting was called by the Sir Alexander Cadogan (Permanent representative of United Kingdom to United Nations) on 11.30 AM GMT (5.30 hours behind Indian Standard Time). However, Hyderabad state surrendered at 3PM IST, two hours before the commencement of scheduled meeting and consequently it was called off.

Communal Holocaust

There was a widespread massive communal outbreak (rapes, looting, genocide) in Hyderabad state especially in Marathwada regions. Nehru appointed Pandit Sunder Lal committee to investigate the riots. The findings of the report were classified until 2013 when it was made public based on a petition filed by Historian Sunil Purushotham from the University of Cambridge. According to the committee, about 27,000 to 40,000 people were killed. The committee also mentioned in its report that Indian Army and also the local police took part in looting and even other crimes in some places. It further mentioned that few cases even compelled the Hindu mob to loot Muslim shops and houses. Nehru sympathized with the committee report but didn't endorsed it, while Patel disagreed with it.

Administration after Police Action

JN Chaudhari was appointed as the Military Governor but soon was replaced by Civil Servant MK Vellodhi. The Nizam was given a titular post, The Rajpramukh till 1956 and a sum of 1 Crore was added into his Privy Purse (pensions to rulers of erstwhile princely states).

Conclusion

The gruesome consequences can be prevented had Nizam accepted the 'autonomous' clause offered in Standstill agreement by India. By not accepting India's offer, the disillusioned Nizam dug his own grave, losing his giant empire and personal properties (Sarf-e-Khas), which constituted 10% of total land holdings in the state. Moreover, his incapacitated geographical understanding of Hyderabad's location in the centre of India, didn't compelled him to entered into a pact with the Govt of India. Besides, Hyderabad state was land-locked and it was very difficult to get airspace & sea routes for advance weaponry to come in without the knowledge of Indian government. He was such a moron that even an assembly of 40% Muslim representation was not acceptable to him despite Muslims constituted only 13% of population. This was clear evident that he didn't see anything more than his own self interests in saving his monarchy rule and that too on wrong calculations. Though he was a richest person in the world and got featured in TIME magazine of 1937, he lacked common sense.The 24th Amendment 1971 by Indira Gandhi government made lost his Privy Purse. By his rickety decisions, he was responsible for the collapse of most developed state of the modern times. The liberation day, as often called by right wing organizations, is itself a misnomer because Hyderabad state lost its glory economically, socially and culturally. It is utter shame that they add communal color to get political mileage out of it on the blood stains of people who were massacred down the history. Also, the Nizam was not an outsider. He and his fore-fathers born and grew up here, built a world class infrastructure in Hyderabad city including on which assembly of two telugu states functioned till recently. Both sides, fatalities occured on huge scale. It's very hard to forget the historical wrongs and blunders but it would be senseless to repeat the history again which was filled with hate and hostility. Let us strive to build a good common future for our coming generations to live in coexistence filled with mutual love, peace and trust. As there is saying “Those who don't learn from the History are bound to repeat it”.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are personal opinions of the author and has not those of the organisation.