Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hyderabad’s Independence Day!

Mohan Guruswamy | September 01, 2014, 07.09 am IST

The Charminar in Hyderabad (Photo: DC)
The Charminar in Hyderabad (Photo: DC)
For a full 13 months after India’s Independence, the Nizam tested the patience of the people of Hyderabad and the newly independent Indian Union. Like the maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, he too entertained notions of an independent state and sought to widen the issue by moving the United Nations. His government consulted with Pakistan and began stockpiling arms. Within the Nizam’s realm, militant Razakars led by Qasim Razvi, had stepped up their campaign of terrorising Hindus and whipping up religious sentiments among the Muslims.
On September 13, five infantry battalions and an armoured regiment of the Indian Army, under the command of Maj. Gen. J.N. Chaudhry commenced Operation Polo, a “police action” to integrate the princely state of Hyderabad with the rest of India.
On September 17, the Hyderabad army commanded by Maj. Gen. El-Edroos formally surrendered. The Nizam made an abject and pathetic speech on the radio. He tried to shift the blame on the extremists led by Qasim Razvi.  It was hardly convincing, but the Indian government appointed him the Rajpramukh or Governor of the state of Hyderabad.
Hyderabad was the largest Indian princely state in terms of population and GNP. Its territory of 82,698 sq. miles was more than that of England and Scotland put together. The 1941 Census had estimated its population to be 16.34 million, over 85 per cent of whom were Hindus and with Muslims accounting for about 12 per cent. It was also a multilingual state consisting of peoples speaking Telugu (48.2 per cent), Marathi (26.4 per cent), Kannada (12.3 per cent) and Urdu (10.3 per cent). Its diversity and broad heritage can be seen today in the historical monuments at Ajanta, Ellora and Daulatabad in Marathwada; Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, Anegondi and Kampili in Karnataka; and Warangal and Nagarjunakonda in Telangana.
As can be imagined, it was a Muslim-dominated state. Typically in 1911, 70 per cent of the police, 55 per cent of the army and 26 per cent of the public administration were Muslims. In 1941, a report on the Civil Service revealed that of the 1765 officers, 1268 were Muslims, 421 were Hindus, and 121 others, presumably British, Christians, Parsis and Sikhs. Of the officials drawing a pay between Rs 600 and Rs 1,200 per month, 59 were Muslims, 38 were “others”, and only five were Hindus.
The Nizam and his nobles, who were mostly Muslims, owned 40 per cent of the total land in the kingdom. Clearly it was too much of a good thing for so few and the time for its end had come. The Asaf Jah dynasty came into being in the waning years of the Mughal Empire. Mir Qamruddin, a Muslim general of Indian origin, was first appointed Governor of the Deccan in 1707. He was called the Nizam-ul-Mulk.
Qamruddin, after a brief stint as the Mughal wazir, returned to the Deccan in 1723 to carve out an independent domain for himself. He was now Asaf Jah I. In 1798 Hyderabad came under the dominance of the English when Asaf Jah II entered into a Subsidiary Alliance with the East India Company, which made sure that Hyderabad remained under the Nizam’s rule, but under their guidance.
As can well be imagined there was absolutely no political activity in the kingdom for most of this period. The first stirrings began in 1927 when the Majlis-e-Ittihad-ul-Muslim-een (MIM) was formed to unite Muslims for “the solution of their problems within the principle of Islam”, and to protect their economic, social and educational interests.
In 1933 an association of mulki’s or local born Hindus and Muslims called the Nizam’s Subjects League was formed as a reaction to the continued domination of gair-mulki’s in government, even though most of them were Muslims. This was soon to be known as the Mulki League.
It was the Mulki League that first mooted the idea of a responsible government in Hyderabad.
In 1937 the Mulki League split between the more radical elements that were mostly Hindus and the more status quo inclined. This led to the formation of the Hyderabad Peoples Convention in 1937, a prelude to the establishment of the Hyderabad State Congress the following year. With this the movement for political and constitutional reform picked up momentum.
The Hyderabad State Congress agitation coincided with a parallel agitation led by the Arya Samaj and Hindu Mahasabha of V.D. Savarkar on Hindu civil rights. To a large extent, the interests of the Congress and Hindu organizations coincided. This put them squarely against the Majlis who were now led by Bahadur Yar Jung who was also the founder of the Anjuman-i-Tabligh-i-Islam, a proselytising Muslim organisation who-se prime activity was the conversion of Hindus.
Bahadur Yar Jung summed his goal very succinctly: “The Majlis policy is to keep the sovereignty of His Exalted Highness intact and to prevent Hindus from establishing supremacy over Muslims.”
The leadership of the Congress took more nationalist overtones after the arrival of Swami Ramanand Tirtha  on the scene. Tirtha hailed from Gulbarga and as a young man, became a sadhu. He became president of the Hyderabad Congress in 1946 and attracted around him several young men who rose to prominence in independent India. Foremost among these were former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, S.B. Chavan, Veerendra Patil, and M. Channa Reddy.
While the Congress was gaining strength, the Communists were also active in the Telugu speaking areas. They captured the Andhra Mahasabha that was formed in 1921 to represent the interests of the Telugu speaking people in 1942.
Unlike the Hyderabad Congress, which took the cue from Mahatma Gandhi and launched a movement for democratic rights in the state to run parallel to the Quit India movement, the Communists joined hands with the Majlis to support the Nizam, who being a faithful ally of the British, was fully immersed in the war effort.
The advent of the Indian Army brought in its wake great changes that were sought ever since political activity began in the state. Most of the Muslim elite soon found themselves marginalized and many migrated to Pakistan. Others like Ali Yavar Jung made a smooth transition into the new order.
Nothing reflected the handing over of the baton better than the transition in the Secunderabad Club seen in its picture gallery of past presidents. The club was for long the citadel of power, prestige and privilege in the state and always had a senior Britisher as its president. Maj. Gen. El-Edroos, C-in-C of the Hyderabad State Army, became its first non-British President in 1947.
In March 1949 he made way for Maj. Gen. J.N. Chaudhry, Military Governor. And independence finally came to Hyderabad.\
(Source- DC )