On the midnight of August 15th 1947, India gained its independence from the British and was partitioned into two countries- Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The partition was created on the basis of religion, with the Muslim League demanding an independent Pakistan for India’s Muslim population.
Several parts of India such as North-West Frontier Province, Sindh, West Punjab and East Bengal were given to Pakistan while United Province, Bombay Presidency, North and Deccan India, Malabar, Madras, West Bengal, etc. were given to India due to them having a Hindu-majority.
While leaving, the British permitted the princely states (who acted as agents of the British during the British Raj) to choose whether they’d like to remain independent or join either country’s territory. Raja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir decided to accede his territory to India after he received aggressive hostility from the Pakistan side of the border, and signed the instrument of accession on 26th October 1947 with the Republic of India.
Like Hari Singh, the Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan was in a dilemma to choose which union he’d like his country to merge with and initially agreed to the ‘standstill agreement’ where the Republic of India would handle the external affairs and defence of Hyderabad but won’t interfere in the internal affairs. This was however violated by the state of Hyderabad when it secretly loaned 15 million pounds to Pakistan and raised a semi-private military (Razakars) in the country.
Suppression of Hindus
Under the rule of Nizams, Hindus were brutally suppressed by the rulers. Hindus were routinely discriminated due to their religion during their appointment to government posts and the state army. Of 1765 officers in the State Army, 1268 were Muslims, 421 were Hindus, and 121 others were Christians, Parsis and Sikhs. Of the officials drawing a salary between Rs. 600 and 1200 per month, 59 were Muslims, 5 were Hindus and 38 were of other religions. The Nizam and his nobles, who were mostly Muslims, owned 40% of the total land in the state, showing the vast inequality in the distribution of wealth.
In 1936, the Arya Samaj, Hindu Mahasabha and Hyderabad State Conference staged agitations against the Nizam and his nobles for the discrimination against Hindus while employment to government posts and social boycott by the Muslim population.
Frightened by the growing awareness amongst the Hindu population in Hyderabad, Nizam Khan ordered the formation of a semi-private army called ‘Razakars’ to suppress the agitations. The Razakars were a wing of the Majlis-e-Itihadul Muslimeen (MIM, or AIMIM as it is presently known). The Razakars managed to raise 1 lakh Jihadis in their army within a span of days. The army managed to suppress the Hindus by mass-murdering and abducting Hindus in urban Telangana.
Formation of Razakars
The Razakars were intended to be the armed wing of the MIM (which is a present day political party that goes by the name “AIMIM”), and upheld the Islamic domination of Hyderabad. By 1948, the Nizam didn’t want the growing public opinion of Hindus that Hyderabad should accede to India grow roots in the state, and ordered the Razakars to brutally suppress the Hindu population. Qasim Razvi was made the chief of the Jihadi force.
The Razakars raised 2 lakh Jihadis in their force and raided Hindu-majority villages in Telangana.
Historian Frank Moraes records, “From the beginning of 1948 the Razakars had extended their activities from Hyderabad city into the towns and rural areas, murdering Hindus, abducting women, pillaging houses and fields, and looting non-Muslim property in a widespread reign of terror.”
In the book ‘Marathwada Under the Nizams’, historian P.V Kate records, “Some women became victims of rape and kidnapping by Razakars. Thousands went to jail and braved the cruelties perpetrated by the oppressive administration. Due to the activities of the Razakars, thousands of Hindus had to flee from the state and take shelter in various camps”.
Over 150 villages in rural Telangana were pushed to Islamic brutality, and over 40,000 civilians fled to the Central Provinces of India from Telangana for refuge. These refugees then proceeded to retaliate against the murderous Razakars through frequent raids to reclaim their land in the bordering areas of Central Provinces and Telangana.
Toothless-ness of Nehru and the wrath of Patel
After receiving the details of the exodus of Hindus by the Nizam of Hyderabad, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was afraid that any attack on the princely state would attract retaliation from West and East Pakistan. Nehru was hesitant to take the decision of storming into the state and annexing it.
On the insistence of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Nehru hesitantly agreed to the annexure of Hyderabad and ordered the Indian Army to annexe the state of Hyderabad and storm into the state from all fronts.
On 13th September 1948, the Indian Army launched an attack on Hyderabad; this operation was named ‘Operation Polo’. The Indian Army, in a 5-day battle, annexed Hyderabad from the Nizam and integrated it into the territory of India.
Despite the Indian Army having only 35,000 soldiers dispatched for this operation, it suffered only 35 casualties whereas the Hyderabad State suffered 5,738 casualties despite having an army of 2,20,000 soldiers. The Indian Army had a sweeping victory over the Nizam and annexed the state.
Aftermath and surrender of Nizam to India
After the embarrassing defeat, the Nizam of Hyderabad surrendered to the Indian Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and agreed to accede Hyderabad to India. Qasim Razvi was jailed from 1948-1957 after which he took asylum in Pakistan.
Razvi gave the responsibility of the MIM to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, thus letting the Owaisi family run what remained of the MIM. The MIM was banned for a brief period in 1948, after which it changed its name to AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Itihadul Muslimeen) and contests elections to this day.
- Press Communique” (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India
- RIAF in Hyderabad” (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India
- Sherman, Taylor C. (2007). “The integration of the princely state of Hyderabad and the making of the postcolonial state in India (PDF)
- Official Indian army website complete Roll of Honor of Indian KIA”. Indianarmy.nic.in.
- Guruswamy, Mohan (May 2008). “There once was a Hyderabad!”. Seminar Magazine
- “Hyderabad Police Action”. Indian Army. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- B. Cohen (2007). Kingship and Colonialism in India’s Deccan
- Mehrotra, S.R. (1979). Towards Indias Freedom And Partition