Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Snapshot
  • It is astounding that some people still call the liberation of Hyderabad a “merger” and not the “surrender” of the Nizam–ruled State.

On 18 September 1948, the army of the Nizam of Hyderabad— commanded by General Syed Ahmed El Edroos— surrendered to the Indian Army commanded by Major General J.N. Chaudhuri, after five days of battle. It is astounding that some people call the event a “merger” and not the “surrender” or “liberation” of the Nizam–ruled State of Hyderabad.

The events narrated below bear out the evil intentions of the Nizam who was, in turn, backed by the murderous, roguish, power-drunk Islamist Razakars. There were about 200,000 of them, led by Kasim Razvi— founder of the Ittehadul Muslimeen. While over 500 states— including large ones like Mysore, Baroda, Travancore and Indore— signed the instrument of accession and after amicable talks merged their territories with India, Junagadh and Hyderabad didn’t.

Junagadh acceded to Pakistan but its ruler had to flee the state in the face of a popular uprising. A referendum confirmed the merger of Junagadh with India. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India at the last moment when much of its territory was overrun by Pakistan–supported tribesmen.

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The Nizam of Hyderabad had the intention to become independent. He issued a firman (vetted by Muhammad Ali Jinnah) on June 11 1947 that he was entitled to assume the status of an independent sovereign on 15 August 1947. He wanted a treaty with India and not accession to it. Islamist Razakars and an equally Islamist Prime Minister, Mir Laik Ali, tightened their grip on the Nizam. Jinnah, the creator of Pakistan, encouraged this intransigence but stopped short of militarily, or otherwise, supporting the Nizam. He was content in receiving a “loan” of Rs 20 crore which, in effect, was a donation to Pakistan by the Nizam.

In the period 1946-48, about 3000 villages in the Nalgonda and Warangal (including Khammam) districts were “liberated” by the guerrilla armies of the Communist Party. There were battles between the armed Communists and Razakars. To cover up the indecision and irresolution, a “standstill agreement” was signed between India and the Nizam’s government on 29 November 1947 and negotiations went on to reach a final settlement.

Lord Mountbatten was the Governor-General. He wanted to make an exception in regard to the Nizam by creating a treaty between the Nizam and the Indian Government instead of accession and merger. Jawaharlal Nehru did not want any military conflict between the Nizam and the Indian Union. Sardar Patel, the Home Minister, was determined not to have an independent Islamist state in the heart of India. However, with the special solicitude of the British Governor-General for the Nizam, Patel was forced to bide his time until Mountbatten returned to the United Kingdom in June 1948.

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K.M. Munshi was sent as the Agent-General of India to the Nizam’s state. There was trust and a unity of purpose and views between Patel and Munshiji. The acquisition of arms and whipping up of Islamist jihadi spirit by the Razakars were under the keen observation of Munshi.

The Nizam filed a complaint with the Security Council of the United Nations alleging the armed aggression of India on his state, even as he himself was acquiring arms and imparting training to the Razakars. A notorious smuggler, Sidney Cotton was bringing arms into the state. Nizam even wanted to buy Goa from the Portuguese so that the importat of arms could be done openly. The Nizam went on changing his Prime Ministers, one after another, at the behest of Kasim Razvi. Laik Ali, who went to Pakistan and was a member of the Pakistan delegation to the United Nations, was brought in as the Prime Minister.

In February 1948, the Communist Party of India (CPI) characterised the Nehru government as a stooge of Anglo-American imperialism and took to arms to overthrow the Nehru government. They wished to establish dictatorship of the proletariat— the cherished ideology of communists everywhere. The CPI replaced the non-combative P.C Joshi with B.T. Ranadive who toed the Stalinist line of overthrowing the Indian government by armed revolution.

The communists thought that with 3000 villages liberated and ruled by them they would be able to eventually defeat the Nizam’s army. They would then convert the Nizam’s territories as a Commune Republic and, from there on, carry on the war to bring down the Nehru government.

The Nizam lifted the ban on the Communist party in the state in May 1948. The communists then publicly declared that the Nizam state should not accede to capitalist India but be independent. The Communist party even instructed its cadres to resist the Indian army if it entered the Nizam’s dominions.

After a series of failed negotiations for a treaty between India and the Nizam, Mountbatten— in the hope of successfully resolving the issue— drafted an agreement which called for neither accession nor independence but nonetheless gave considerable freedom to the Nizam. As the time for his departure in June 1948 was approaching, accompanied by Pandit Nehru and a number of ministers, he took his agreement to Sardar Patel who was on a sickbed in Dehra Dun.

It so happened that Patel rejected this agreement. Mountbatten was highly disappointed. Sardar Patel questioned him as to whether this agreement meant so much to him, to which Mountbatten replied in the affirmative. Then Patel signed his approval to the agreement. It was Mountbatten and Nehru’s bad luck that, when this much flaunted agreement with Sardar Patel’s signature was presented to the Nizam, it was rejected.

Mountbatten left and the decks were clear for Sardar Patel to deal with Nizam and the Razakars.

Patel decided upon the use of force. Nehru disagreed. The wise Indian Governor- General C. Rajagopalachari called Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel together to resolve the difference. Nehru’s resistance to military action suddenly ended when a telegram from the British High Commission, protesting against the rape of some British Nuns in Secunderabad by Razakars, was shown to him by Rajaji.

But the British Commander of the Indian Army General Roy Bucher pleaded with Nehru, who directed him to talk to Sardar Patel, about postponing military action since Pakistan was in mourning over the death of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Patel firmly told him to obey the orders and march the Indian Army into Hyderabad. Bucher was talking on the telephone to his counterpart, a Briton heading the Pakistan Army. This conversation was tapped. When confronted, Bucher said he was exchanging pleasantries but, when the tape was played, he offered to resign to avoid the dismissal for disloyalty.

Indian forces began their march, as ordered by Sardar Patel, on 13 September in three directions. The Nizams Razakars were easily beaten. General El Edroos surrendered before General Chaudhuri on 18 September 1948.

Is it not a shameful act to say that Hyderabad was “not liberated” but “peacefully merged” with India? We, the people of Telangana, are immensely indebted to Sardar Patel and K.M. Munshi.

Here is one suggestion to the state government. Why not install the statues of Sardar Patel and K.M. Munshi side by side in the cantonment area of Hyderabad as a mark of respect?

Can that be considered? Or is too much to ask, given the fear of Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

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