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Operation Polo: Integrating Hyderabad – 75 Years On


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Operation Polo

Mains level : Not Much

operation polo

Central Idea

  • September 13, 2023, marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Polo, a significant military action undertaken by the Indian Army in 1948 to integrate the princely state of Hyderabad.
  • This operation, also known as the “Police Action,” led to the Nizam of Hyderabad’s forces surrendering to the Indian Army by September 18, 1948.
  • Understanding the background and events surrounding Operation Polo is essential to appreciate its historical significance.

Context of Operation Polo

(1) The Nizam’s Stand:

  • The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Shah, was reluctant to join India or Pakistan after India’s Independence in 1947.
  • He exploited the diversion of Indian resources towards the Kashmir conflict, signing a standstill agreement with India in November 1947, maintaining the status quo in Hyderabad.

(2) Growing Tensions:

  • Hyderabad, a populous and prosperous state in the Deccan, was predominantly Hindu but administered by Muslim rulers.
  • The state had no common border with Pakistan, yet the Nizam sought amicable relations with Pakistan.
  • The Nizam’s forces, especially the Razakars, escalated tensions with their actions, including cross-border raids and overtures to Pakistan.

The Military Campaign: Operation Polo

(1) Hyderabad’s Forces and Situation:

  • Hyderabad’s military consisted of approximately 25,000 troops, with limited training and readiness.
  • The Razakars, though numerous, posed a minor military challenge.

(2) Indian Army’s Leadership:

  • Major General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri, the General Officer Commanding of 1 Armoured Division, led the Indian forces.

(3) Multi-Directional Offensive:

  • The primary assault came from the west, led by 1 Armoured Division, supported by forces from the north, south, and east.
  • Key elements included the Smash Force, Kill Force, and Vir Force in the western thrust.
  • Additional thrusts were launched from Aurangabad, Jabalpur, and the eastern front.
  • The southern thrust originated from Vijayawada.

Conclusion: Surrender and Significance

(1) Ceasefire and Surrender:

  • The Nizam announced a ceasefire on September 17, 1948.
  • On September 18, Major General Chaudhuri entered Hyderabad, and Major General El Edroos surrendered to him.
  • Major General Chaudhuri was subsequently appointed as the Military Governor of Hyderabad.

(2) Honoring a Hero:

  • Havildar Bachhitar Singh of 2 Sikh was posthumously awarded the first Ashoka Chakra of Independent India for his role in Operation Polo.
  • He sacrificed his life on September 13, 1948, while advancing towards Naldurg, a part of Hyderabad state.

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