From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Hyderabad's accession into India
Mains level : Post-independence consolidation
The Government of India began its year-long celebrations for the ‘Telangana Liberation Day’ on September 17, marking how on the same day in 1948, the state of Hyderabad got its independence from Nizam’s rule, as said in a press release.
Why in news?
- From 1911 to 1948, Nizam Mir Usman Ali, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, ruled the state composed of Telangana and parts of present-day Karnataka and Maharashtra (Marathwada).
- While these states mark the Liberation Day officially, Telangana has never done so.
Hyderabad’s accession into India: A backgrounder
(1) Reluctance of Nizam
- At the time of India’s independence, British India was a mix of independent kingdoms and provinces that were given the options of joining India, Pakistan, or remaining independent.
- One among those who took a long time to make a decision was the Nizam of Hyderabad.
- Believed to be one of the richest people in the world at the time, the Nizam was not ready to let go of his kingdom.
(2) Sufferings for the people
- Meanwhile, the majority population of Hyderabad state was far from enjoying the same kind of wealth as the Nizam did.
- The feudal nature of the state at the time caused the peasant population to suffer high taxes, indignities of forced labour, and various other kinds of exploitation at the hands of powerful landlords.
(3) Lingual friction
- There was also a demand by the Andhra Jan Sangham for Telugu to be given primacy over Urdu.
- By the mid-1930s, apart from a reduction in land revenue rates and the abolition of forced labour, introducing Telugu in local courts became another important issue.
(4) Mass movement
- Soon after the organisation became the Andhra Mahasabha (AMS), and Communists became associated with it.
- Together, the two groups built a peasant movement against the Nizam that found local support.
Who were the Razakars and the Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen?
- By October 1946, the Nizam banned the AMS.
- A close aide of the Nizam, Qasim Razvi, leader of the Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, became closely involved in securing the Nizam’s position.
- The Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen was a political outfit that sought a greater role for Muslims in the early 20th century, but after Razvi took over the organisation, it became extremist in its ideology.
- It was under him that a militia of the ‘Razakars’ was formed to suppress the peasant and communist movement, launching a brutal attack.
- Around this time, the Standstill Agreement was also signed between the Nizam and the Indian government in November 1947, declaring a status quo.
- This meant that until November 1948, the Nizam could let things be as they were and not finalise a decision as negotiations with the Indian union continued.
How did the situation escalate to military action?
- In the first half of 1948, tensions grew as the razakar leaders and the government in Hyderabad began to speak of war with India and began border raids with Madras and Bombay Presidencies.
- As a response, India stationed troops around Hyderabad and began to ready itself for military intervention.
India commences Operation Polo
- With the Nizam importing more arms and the violence of the Razakars approaching dangerous proportions, India officially launched ‘Operation Polo’ on September 9 and deployed its troops in Hyderabad four days later.
- On September 17, three days after the deployment, the Nizam surrendered and acceded to the Indian Union in November.
- India has decided to be generous and not punish the Nizam.
- He was retained as the official ruler of the state and given a privy purse of five million rupees.
The legacy of Operation Polo
- It has also been said that the army’s march into Hyderabad did not just target the razakars and the radical extremist forces.
- A four-member goodwill mission led by Pandit Sunderlal was constituted by the then Prime Minister.
- At the request of then PM Nehru, a month was spent in Hyderabad in November 1948 where evidence was gathered and at the end, a report was filed.
- Estimated thousands of people died in communal violence during the military action.
Why debate now?
- The debate about whether the day of independence was about integration into the Indian union after months of negotiations, or liberation from an autocratic monarch has continued.
- Hyderabad’s history continues to affect today’s politics.
- After Qasim Rizvi left India for Pakistan, the organisation was handed over to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, the grandfather of a present day Parliamentarian.
- And communal-sectarian politics is storming up the city of Hyderabad leading to religious tensions.