Hyderabad Liberation Day: Telangana Government Must Live Up To Its Promise 

by G Kishan Reddy - Sep 16, 2018 06:34 AM
Hyderabad Liberation Day: Telangana Government Must Live Up To Its Promise The Razakars march during Operation Polo
  • The Telangana Rashtra Samiti equates the historic September 17 celebrations with insulting the Nizam of Hyderabad and in turn angering the Muslim community.

    If the TRS cannot change its stance on the last September 17 of its term, it would have betrayed the trust of the people of Telangana.

Mir Osman Ali, the seventh Nizam of the Hyderabad state, was deposed on 17 September 1948. Unleashing a tyrannical rule, led by the rampaging state-backed militia called the Razakars; the Nizam presided over the worst atrocities employed by any princely state, in a bid to remain independent. The Nizam, who ruled over almost 16 million people, 85 per cent of whom were Hindus, used every trick in the book to retain his independence as the British prepared to leave India.

The Nizam pleaded with the British to help him remain an independent state. He tried to buy the port state of Goa from the Portuguese to retain maritime access. He approached United Nations to build support for his cause. He loaned money to Pakistan and built a large army in defiance, with his Standstill Agreement - an agreement which was to ensure status quo as India and the Hyderabad state held talks - signed with India. He allegedly flew in weapons from Pakistan.

In September 1948, Sardar Patel sanctioned Operation Polo and ensured that Indian troops freed millions of patriotic Hindus and Muslims from the whimsical tyranny of the Nizam. Seventy years later, it is to appease the political inheritors of the Nizam’s legacy that the people of the modern-day state of Telangana are not allowed to celebrate the Hyderabad Liberation Day.

Telangana came into existence in 2014. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) promised to celebrate the momentous day of September 17, when it entered the poll fray in the first ever Telangana assembly elections of 2014. However, no sooner that it won the election, it promptly reneged on its own promise. No September 17 celebrations were held in 2014 and 2015.

As the matters came to a head in 2016, then Union minister and now the Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu wrote to the Telangana government reminding it of its promise to observe the freedom celebrations. Naidu’s letter stressed that the people of Telangana had to wait 13 months more than their fellow Indians to unfurl the Indian Tricolour with pride and a sense of freedom. Surely, they deserved to recall this occasion. But the TRS government turned down the request.

The reasons were quite political. The TRS, today, owes its base in the state to the votes of the Muslim community, which forms almost 13 per cent of the state’s population. The TRS now equates the September 17 celebrations with insulting Nizam and by extension, angering the Muslim community. Such is the strong appeasement streak in Indian politics; the TRS government forgets that Hindus and Muslims stood united to agitate against the Nizam. It forgets that by not celebrating this historic day, it is actually turning a blind eye to the sacrifices made by the common Hindus and Muslims of Telangana to ensure their state today is part of the Indian Union.

History is often written by the victors. In independent India, history has been written largely by the agents of the Congress party, which took over from the British in 1947. These historians have conveniently ignored the million mutinies which gave India its Independence, in favour of the commonly taught narrative that the freedom was delivered by a few Congress stalwarts. One of the problems with this approach is that 70 years later, hardly anyone in Telangana remembers the atrocities piled on by the Razakars.

The Razakars rampaged in villages, molested women, killed men, and destroyed everything in sight. This army, endorsed by the Nizam, wanted to wreak as much havoc as possible and fill Nizam’s coffers as it became clear that the Nizam was losing his hold on his state. One of the tallest leaders of the state and India’s ex-prime minister, P V Narasimha Rao, had described the events of Rangapuram and Laxmipuram villages as South India’s Jallianwala Bagh. In these villages, Razakars came down heavily on the common people who had celebrated India’s freedom from the British in August 1947.

But today, no young kid in Telangana is taught this history. In the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh, first the Congress and then the Telugu Desam Party’s N Chandrababu Naidu ensured that history was sterilised. TRS promised to reverse this, but soon fell prey to political appeasement demands. The irony of the situation is that the Hyderabad Day is celebrated in the current day states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, several parts of which were with the Hyderabad state in 1947.

If the common citizens want to look beyond political compulsions and celebrate the right mix of regional and national fervor, why should the incumbent state government not allow this? Why should the state government come in the way of resetting and restoring its own history? The TRS has a lot to answer in not just reneging on its own promise, but also for keeping the people of Telangana away from their glorious past.

If the TRS cannot change its stance on the last September 17 of its term, it would have betrayed the trust of the people of Telangana.

G Kishan Reddy is the Minister of State for Home Affairs and represents the Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency.

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