History of massacres, illegal occupation, destruction of Hyderabad by India
February 28, 2010 2 Comments
A revealing account surfaces of happenings in Hyderabad state in the wake of the Indian Army’s ‘Police Action’ there in 1948.
“AT times one has to close his (sic) eyes in national interest.” The “senior police officer” who made this confession to The Indian Express, in Srinagar on February 17, provided a truthful explanation for the compromises which sections of the medi a and academia tend to make in the “national interest”.
The officer was speaking of the volte-face his chief, A.K. Suri, had performed with regard to the disclosure of the arrest by the police of a man from Military Intelligence, in plain clothes, for firing wantonly on a group of youngsters in Maisuma , in Srinagar. But, let alone matters of immediate occurrence or issues of current interest such as Kashmir and the border dispute with China, even on historical events one finds a practice of economising with truth.
That K.M. Munshi, India’s Agent-General in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad, did not mention in his memoirs The End of an Era (1957) the massacre of Muslims in many areas in the wake of the Indian Army’s “Police Action” in September 1948 – itself a compromise with the truth – was but to be expected in view of his outlook. Not so its omission in standard works by writers who aspired to scholarly values and who were not communal; only “patriotic” in a perverted but familiar manner. A rare exception was the book by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader P. Sundarayya, Telengana People’s Struggle and its Lessons (1972). He wrote of the “untold miseries” that were inflicted on “the ordinary Muslim people” (pages 88-89).
Suppression of records is not only unethical but futile. More often than not, the foreign scholar will unearth it from archives in London or Washington, or in India itself. A German scholar has done just that. Margrit Pernau records in her book The Pa ssing of Patrimonalism that “while the occupation by the Indian army had been quick and had caused only relatively few casualties, the following communal carnage was all the more terrible. The Razakars had sown wind and reaped not only storm but a hu rricane which in a few days cost the lives of one-tenth to one-fifth of the male Muslim population primarily in the countryside and provincial towers”. (page 336, emphasis added, throughout. See review on page 75).
Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith, a scholar on Islam and a critic of Jinnah’s politics, wrote a seminal article in the periodical The Middle East Journal in 1950 (Volume 4) titled Hyderabad: A Muslim Tragedy. He was Lecturer in Islamic Hist ory at the University of the Punjab and at the Forman Christian College, Lahore (1940-1946) and visited Hyderabad in 1949. In a critique of the Nizam’s policies and of Qasim Razvi, the leader of the Razakars, he also fairly described the aftermath.
“Off the battlefield, however, the Muslim community fell before a massive and brutal blow, the devastation of which left those who did survive reeling in bewildered fear. Thousands upon thousands were slaughtered; many hundreds of thousands uprooted . The instrument of their disaster was, of course, vengeance. Particularly in the Marathwara section of the state, and to a less but still terrible extent in most other areas, the story of the days after ‘police action’ is grim.
“The only careful report on what happened in this period was made a few months later by investigators – including a Congress Muslim and a sympathetic and admired Hindu – commissioned by the Indian Government to study the situation. The report was submitted but has not been published; presumably it makes unpleasant reading. It is widely held that the figure mentioned therein for the number of Muslims massacred is 50,000. Other estimates by responsible observers run as high as 200,000, and by some of the Muslims themselves still higher. The lowest estimates, even those offered privately by apologists of the military government, came to at least ten times the number of murders with which previously the Razakars were officially accused… In some areas, all the men were stood in a line, and done to death. Of the total Muslim community in Hyderabad, it would seem that somewhere between one in ten and one in five of the adult males may have lost their lives in those few days. In additio n to killing, there was widespread rape, arson, looting, and expropriation. A very large percentage of the entire Muslim population of the Districts fled in destitution to the capital or other cities; and later efforts to repatriate them met with scant s uccess.” He was referring to a report by Pandit Sundarlal (1886-1980) and Kazi Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar(1889-1956).
In 1988, Omar Khalidi, a devoted chronicler of Hyderabad, published what he claimed were extracts from their Report in his compilation of essays, Hyderabad: After the Fall (Hyderabad Historical Society; Wichita, Kansas; U.S.). His introduction to the extracts, though informative, is marred by inaccuracies and intemperate language. He had relied, somewhat uncritically, on an interview with Yunus Salim who claimed inaccurately, that he was a member of the team led by Sundarlal which toured Hyderaba d in November-December 1948. A 32-year-old State attorney then, he was dismissed from the post for having helped the team.
Yunus Salim was a Deputy Minister for Railways in Indira Gandhi’s government (1969) and a Governor of Bihar in 1991. Garbled versions of the Report appeared in Pakistan. Khalidi writes: “In addition to the copy in the Union Home Ministry, Srinivas Lahoti , a Communist Party of India leader in Hyderabad, owned a copy. In an interview in February 1988 he claims to have deposited it with the National Archives of India, New Delhi upon his party’s instruction. The present writer obtained fragments of t he Report (which is partly in English and partly in Urdu) from owners who wish to remain anonymous. The portion in English is being reproduced without any alteration. The Urdu portion is translated into English.”
Khalidi was misled. The entire document is in English and the “fragments” he reproduces should have put him on notice that it is not safe to rely on them. The brief Introductory portion is intrinsically unreliable. The rest is a village-wise and d istrict-wise account.
Union Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel reacted angrily to the Report in a letter to Abdul Ghaffar dated January 4, 1949:
“I notice that in your report you mentioned that you were asked by the Government of India to proceed to Hyderabad State on a goodwill mission. At least I am not aware of any such mission having been entrusted to you by the Government of India. As far as I know, you wanted to go there and it was arranged that you should go there at Government expense. There could have been no question of Government of India sending any goodwill mission to Hyderabad State.
“I notice that your report is and your activities were, restricted to making inquiries about what happened during and after the police action. There is nothing in it about the extent and consequences of Razakar atrocities. Probably that was out of the terms of reference which you had set for yourselves. At the same time, you have covered in your reports matters which could by no stretch of imagination, have formed the purview of your enquiry. I should also like to say at once that the detailed in quiries which have been made by the local administration over a fairly long period as opposed to the roving enquiries which you have made during such a short period show that your estimate and your appreciation of the position lack balance and proportion . Finally you have rushed into a sphere which might have been more appropriately left to be covered by experienced statesmanship and administrative ability.”
The assertions were simply untrue and the aspersions were unworthy of Sardar Patel. In those days nobody could have toured the State without official approval. That the team went there admittedly “at government expense” revealed a lot. And, as we know “e xperienced statesmanship and administrative ability” do not guarantee impartiality in inquiries. The report censured the Razakars and was balanced.
Kazi Abdul Ghaffar was a bitter critic of Razvi’s Majlis-e Ittihadul-Muslimin and was trusted by the State Congress. He was editor of Firangi Mahal’s Khilafatist paper Akhuwat (1919-20) and of Payam (1934-46) and was respected as a scholar- journalist. He visited Hyderabad in October along with Padmaja Naidu and alerted Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to the happenings there. Pandit Sundarlal was vice-president of the United Provinces Congress (1931-36) and as president of the All-India Peace Counc il (1959-63), urged rapprochement with China against the majority view of the times.
His magnum opus, The Gita and The Quran, is a neglected work. An English translation was published in 1957 by the Institute of Indo-Middle East Cultural Studies, Hyderabad. Neglected also is Volume 8 (second series) of Selected Works of Jawahar lal Nehru (1990) (pages 102-113).
In a Note to Sardar Patel’s Ministry of States, dated November 14, 1948, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, while denying Pakistan’s propaganda, wrote: “I have recently had talks with Kazi Abdul Ghaffar and Miss Padmaja Naidu, who have just returned from H yderabad. They are both reliable observers… The impression I have gathered from these talks is that while our army is generally believed to have functioned well and to have protected the people, there is little doubt that a very large number of outbreaks took place in the small towns and villages resulting in the massacre of possibly some thousands of Muslims by Hindus, as well as a great deal of looting, etc… This information is contrary to what I had believed and I should like it to be verified through our military and civil authorities in Hyderabad. We must know the truth, or else we shall be caught saying things which are proved to be false later.” It is unlikely that those reports did not reach the ears of the Minister concerned, Vallabhbhai Patel.
Even men like Dr. Zakir Hussain’s brother, the academic Dr. Yusuf Husain Khan, and Dr. M. A. Ansari’s nephew, M.A. Ansari, a High Court Judge, were “removed from their post”, Nehru complained. He added: “One of the persistent charges made is that we inte nd to kill what is called Muslim culture. Hyderabad is known all over the Middle East as a city of Muslim culture. The Osmania University is well known and even better known is the publication department and the translation bureau of the State.”
With a letter to V.P. Menon, the secretary of the Ministry, dated November 26, 1946, Nehru enclosed a note on the situation in Hyderabad and remarked: “If possible, some good non-officials should go there to help the administration and to try to produce a better frame of mind both among the Muslims and the Hindus.”
The editor to the volume recorded: “A four-man goodwill mission, consisting of Kazi Abdul Ghaffar, Pandit Sundarlal, Moulana Abdulla Misri and Furrukh Sayer Shakeri, was sent to Hyderabad at the personal instance of Nehru to study existing conditions and to help in the establishments of communal harmony. After a brief visit to Bidar and Osmanabad districts by Major-General Chaudhury, Pandit Sundarlal, Akbar Ali Khan and Fareed Mirza, two teams, one consisting of Pandit Sundarlal, Kazi Abdul Ghaffar, Mul la Abdul Basith and Mohammed Yunus Saleem had toured Bidar, Osmanabad and Nanded while the other consisting of Moulana Abdulla Misri, Furrukh Sayer and Fareed Mirza visited Aurangabad, Bhir and Gulbarga. They took stock of the information collected and s ent a report to Vallabhbhai Patel.”
All of which shows Sardar Patel’s repudiation of the officially sponsored team to be less than honest. Nehru’s note cited “additional reports from Hyderabad” about the killing and looting. It said: “If there is even a fraction of truth in these reports, then the situation in Hyderabad was much worse than we had been led to believe. It is important that the exact facts should be placed before us. We want no optimistic account and no suppression of unsavoury episodes. That would lead us to form incorrect judgments… A sense of fear seems to pervade the Muslims of Hyderabad. That is perhaps natural after all that has happened. But unless we can lessen this fear, the situation will become worse.”
Dr. Charan Sandhilya, Director of Pandit Sundarlal Institute of Asian Studies at Ghaziabad obtained for this writer a copy of the full text of the Sundarlal Report from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi (excerpts on facing page). It record s official sponsorship and reflects their objectivity in denouncing the Razakars’ murderous attacks on Hindus, in praising officials where praise was due, yet never flinching from telling the terrible truth about the massacre of Muslims. This is a truth which hardly any Indian scholar has deigned to admit this day.
The Sundarlal Report is of more than historical importance; it is of current relevance, for the massacres, coupled with the national indifference to them, have left scars in the minds of Muslims in the State, Hyderabad city in particular. And some Muslim communal parties have not been slow to exploit these scars.
HYDERABAD:Of a massacre untold A. G. NOORANI
Hyderabad State had its own army, as well as its own airline, telecommunication system, railway network, postal system, currency and radio broadcasting service, with a GDP larger than that of Belgium.
It was in this context that the Nizam, then the richest man in the world, desired to retain independence for his state. The Indians however, were wary of having an independent – and possibly hostile in the heart of its territory, and were determined to assimilate Hyderabad into the Indian Union, in the same manner as the other five hundred and sixty five royal states that had already acceded.
The Nizam allowed Qasim Razvi, a close advisor, and leader of the radical Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Party, to set up an voluntary militia of Muslims called the ‘Razakars’. The Razakars – who numbered up to 200,000 at the height of the conflict
The Nizam of Hyderabad initially approached the British government with a request to take on the status of an independent constitutional monarchy under the British Commonwealth of Nations. This request was however rejected.
When Indian Home Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel requested the Hyderabad Government to sign the instrument of accession, the Nizam refused and instead declared Hyderabad as an independent nation on 15 August 1947, the same day that India became independent. Alarmed at the idea of an independent Hyderabad in the heart of Indian territory, Sardar Patel approached the governor general of India, Lord Mountbatten who advised him to resolve the issue without the use of force.
Accordingly, the Indian government offered Hyderabad a ‘Standstill Agreement’ which made an assurance that the status quo would be maintained and no military action would be taken.
Hyderabadi Military Preparations
The Nizam of Hyderabad had a large army with a tradition of hiring mercenary forces. These included Arabs, Rohillas, North Indian Muslims and Pathans. The State Army consisted of three armoured regiments, a horse cavalry regiment, 11 infantry battalions and artillery. These were supplemented by irregular units with horse cavalry, four infantry battalions (termed as the Saraf-e-khas, paigah, Arab and Refugee) and a garrison battalion – all forming a total of 22,000 men. This army was commanded by Major General El Edroos, an Arab. 55 per cent of the Hyderabadi army was composed of Muslims, with 1,268 Muslims in a total of 1,765 officers as of 1941.
In addition to these, there were about 200,000 irregular militia called the Razakars under the command of civilian leader Qasim Razvi. A quarter of these were armed with modern small firearms, while the rest were predominantly armed with muzzle-loaders and swords.
It is reported that the Nizam received arms supplies from Pakistan and from the Portuguese administration based in Goa. In addition, additional arms supplies were received via airdrops from an Australian arms trader Sidney Cotton.
Breakdown of Negotiations
As the Indian government received information that Hyderabad was arming itself and was preparing to ally with Pakistan in any future war with India, Sardar Patel described the idea of an independent Hyderabad as an ulcer in the heart of India – which had to removed surgically. In response, Hyderabad’s prime minister Laik Ali stated “India thinks that if Pakistan attacks her, Hyderabad will stab her in the back. I am not so sure we would not.” Sardar Patel responded later by stating “If you threaten us with violence, swords will be met with swords”.
In Hyderabad, militia leader Qasim Razwi told a crowd of Razakars, “Death with the sword in hand, is always preferable to extinction by a mere stroke of the pen.”. Razwi was later described by Indian government officials as “The Nizam’s Frankenstein Monster”. In response to reports that India was planning to invade Hyderabad Razwi stated, “If India attacks us I can and will create a turmoil throughout India. We will perish but India will perish also.” The magazine “Time” pointed out that if India invaded Hyderabad, the Razakars would massacre Hindus, which would lead to retaliatory massacres of Muslims across India.
Skirmish at Kodar
On September 6 an Indian police post near Chillakallu village came under heavy fire from Razakar units. The Indian Army command sent a squadron of The Poona Horse led by Abhey Singh and a company of 2/5 Gurkha Rifles to investigate who were also fired upon by the Razakars. The tanks of the Poona Horse then chased the Razakars to Kodar, in Hyderabad territory. Here they were opposed by the armoured cars of 1 Hyderabad Lancers. In a brief action the Poona Horse destroyed one armoured car and forced the surrender of the state garrison at Kodar.
Indian Military Preparations
On receiving directions from the government to seize and annex Hyderabad, the Indian army came up with the Goddard Plan (laid out by Lt. Gen E.N. Goddard, the C-in-C of the Southern Command). The plan envisaged two main thrusts – from Vijayawada in the East and Solapur in the West – while smaller units pinned down the Hyderabadi army along the border. Overall command was placed in the hands of Lt. Gen. Rajendrasinghji, DSO.
The attack from Solapur was led by Major General J.N. Chaudhari and was composed of four task forces:
Strike Force comprising a mix of fast moving infantry, cavalry and light artillery,
Smash Force consisting of predominantly armoured units and artillery,
Kill Force composed of infantry and engineering units
Vir Force which comprised infantry, anti-tank and engineering units.
The attack from Vijaywada was led by Major General A.A. Rudra and comprised the 2/5 Gurkha Rifles, one squadron of the 17th (Poona) Horse, and a troop from the 19th Field Battery along with engineering and ancillary units. In addition, four infantry battalions were to neutralize and protect lines of communication. Two squadrons of Hawker Tempest aircraft were prepared for air support from the Pune base.
The date for the attack was fixed as 13 September, even though General Sir Roy Bucher, the Indian chief of staff, had objected on grounds that Hyderabad would be an additional front for the Indian army after Kashmir.
Commencement of Hostilities
Day 1, September 13
The first battle was fought at Naldurg Fort on the Solapur Secundarabad Highway between a defending force of the 1st Hyderabad Infantry and the attacking force of the 7th Brigade. Using speed and surprise, the 7th Brigade managed to secure a vital bridge on the Bori river intact, following which an assault was made on the Hyderabadi positions at Naldurg by the 2nd Sikh Infantry. The bridge and road secured, an armoured column of the 1st Armoured Brigade – part of the Smash force – moved into the town of Jalkot, 8 km from Naldurg, at 0900 hours, paving the way for the Strike Force units under Lt. Col Ram Singh Commandant of 9 DOGRA (a motorised battalion) to pass through. This armoured column reached the town of Umarge, 61 km inside Hyderabad by 1515 hours, where it quickly overpowered resistance from Razakar units defending the town. Meanwhile, another column consisting of a squadron of 3rd Cavalry, a troop from 18th King Edward’s Own Cavalry, a troop from 9 Para Field Regiment, 10 Field Company Engineers, 3/2 Punjab Regiment, 2/1 Gurkha Rifles, 1 Mewar Infantry, and ancillary units attacked the town of Tuljapur, about 34 km north-west of Naldurg. They reached Tuljapur at dawn, where they encountered resistance from a unit of the 1st Hyderabad Infantry and about 200 Razakars who fought for two hours before surrendering. Further advance towards the town of Lohara was stalled as the river had swollen. The first day on the Western front ended with the Indians inflicting heavy casualties on the Hyderabadis and capturing large tracts of territory. Amongst the captured defenders was a British mercenary who had been tasked with blowing up the bridge near Naldurg.
In the East, forces led by Lt. Gen A.A. Rudra met with fierce resistance from two armoured units of Humber armoured cars and Staghound armoured cars, but managed to reach the town of Kodar by 0830 hours. Pressing on, the force reached Mungala by the afternoon.
There were further incidents in Hospet – where the 1st Mysore assaulted and secured a sugar factory from units of Razakars and Pathans – and at Tungabhadra – where the 5/5 Gurkha attacked and secured a vital bridge from the Hyderabadi army.
Day 2, September 14
The force that had camped at Umarge proceeded to the town of Rajasur, 48 km east. As aerial reconnaissance had shown well entrenched ambush positions set up along the way, the air strikes from squadrons of Tempests were called in. These air strikes effectively cleared the route and allowed the land forces to reach and secure Rajasur by the afternoon.
The Assault force from the East was meanwhile slowed down by an anti-tank ditch and later came under heavy fire from hillside positions of the 1st Lancers and 5th Infantry 6 km from Surriapet. The positions were assaulted by the 2/5 Gurkha – veterans of the Burma Campaign – and was neutralised with the Hyderabadis taking severe casualties.
At the same time, the 3/11 Gurkha Rifles and a squadron of 8th Cavalry attacked Osmanabad and took the town after heavy street combat with the Razakars who determinedly resisted the Indians
A force under the command of Maj. Gen. D.S. Brar was tasked with capturing the city of Aurangabad. The city was attacked by six columns of infantry and cavalry, resulting in the civil administration emerging in the afternoon and offering a surrender to the Indians.
There were further incidents in Jalna where 3 Sikh, a company of 2 Jodhpur infantry and some tanks from 18 Cavalry faced stubborn resistance from Hyderabadi forces.
Day 3, September 15
Leaving a company of 3/11 Gurkhas to occupy the town of Jalna, the remainder of the force moved to Latur, and later to Mominabad where they faced action against the 3 Golconda Lancers who gave token resistance before surrendering.
At the town of Surriapet, air strikes cleared most of the Hyderabadi defences, although some Razakar units still gave resistance to the 2/5 Gurkhas who occupied the town. The retreating Hyderabadi forces destroyed the bridge at Musi to delay the Indians but failed to offer covering fire, allowing the bridge to be quickly repaired. Another incident occurred at Narkatpalli where a Razakar unit was decimated by the Indians.
Day 4, September 16
The task force under Lt. Col. Ram Singh moved towards Zahirabad at dawn, but was slowed down by a minefield, which had to be cleared. On reaching the junction of the Bidar road with the Solapur-Hyderabad City Highway, the forces encountered gunfire from ambush positions. However, leaving some of the units to handle the ambush, the bulk of the force moved on to reach 15 kilometres beyond Zahirabad by nightfall in spite of sporadic resistance along the way. Most of the resistance was from Razakar units who ambushed the Indians as they passed through urban areas. The Razakars were able to use the terrain to their advantage until the Indians brought in their 75 mm guns.
Day 5, September 17
In the early hours of September 17, the Indian army entered Bidar. Meanwhile, forces led by the 1st Armoured regiment were at the town of Chityal about 60 km from the capital city, while another column took over the town of Hingoli. By the morning of the 5th day of hostilities, it had become clear that the Hyderabad army and the Razakars had been routed on all fronts and with extremely heavy casualties. The Nizam’s defeat was now imminent.
Consultations with Indian Envoy
On September 16, faced with imminent defeat, the Nizam summoned the Prime Minister Mir Laik Ali and requested his resignation by the morning of the following day. The resignation was delivered along with the resignations of the entire cabinet.
On the noon of September 17, a messenger brought a personal note from the Nizam to India’s Agent General to Hyderabad, K.M. Munshi summoning him to the Nizam’s office at 1600 hours. At the meeting, the Nizam stated “The vultures have resigned. I don’t know what to do”. Munshi advised the Nizam to secure the safety of the citizens of Hyderabad by issuing appropriate orders to the Commander of the Hyderabad State Army, Major General El Edroos. This was immediately done.
“Operation Polo” resulted in moderate casualties for Indian forces, with significantly higher losses for Hyderbadi forces. Indian losses were 32 killed and 97 wounded. Among the Indian units, the Punjab Regiment had by far suffered the greatest number of casualties, with 20 of its soldiers killed in action. The losses suffered by Hyderbad state forces and Irregular forces combined were 1,863 killed, 122 wounded, and 3,558 captured. In the following weeks the state erupted in widespread communal violence. 50,000 people may have died in the reprisals that followed the invasion. Most of the violence occurred in the state’s rural districts, sparking large scale migration both to the capital at Hyderabad, and to Pakistan.
The Nizam received the ceremonial post of Rajpramukh in 1950, but resigned from this office when the states were re-organized in 1956 on linguistic basis and large parts of Hyderabad state went to Bombay State. Many officials and members of the royal family fled and re-settled in Pakistan where they now live.
^ http://indianarmy.nic.in – Official Indian army website complete Roll of Honor of Indian KIA
^ a b c Hyderabad 1948 Revisited IndiaDefence.com
^ a b http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE2-3/lns.html
^ a b http://www.indianofficer.com/forums/history-wiki/899-operation-polo-liberation-hyderabad.html
^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/making_history/making_history_20080527.shtml Making History, 27 May 2008, BBC Radio 4
Zubrzycki, John. (2006) The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince in the Australian Outback. Pan Macmillan, Australia. ISBN 978-0-3304-2321-2.
A Blog by Narendra Luther on Operation polo
Picture of VII Nizam with Sardar Patel after his surrender
From the Sunderlal Report – Excerpts in FRONTLINE
Of a massacre untold – A.G.Noorani
In the Nizam’s dominion
Armchair Historian – Operation Polo (Monday, 18 September 2006) – Contributed by Sidin Sunny Vadukut – Last Updated (Monday, 18 September 2006
From the Sundarlal Report
(1) The Honourable the Prime Minister, Government of India, New Delhi.
(2) The Honourable the States Minister, Government of India, New Delhi.
We were asked by the Government of India to proceed to Hyderabad State on a goodwill mission. After completing our task there we now beg to submit our report.
(1) The delegation consisting of Pandit Sundarlal, Kazi Abdul Ghaffar and Moulana Abdulla Misri arrived at Hyderabad on the 29th of November and returned to Delhi on the 21st of December 1948. During this period we toured through 9 out of the 16 district s of the state, visiting 7 district headquarters, 21 towns and 23 important villages. In addition we interviewed over 500 people from 109 such villages as we did not visit.
Further 31 public meetings at various places and 27 private gatherings of Hindus, Muslims, Congress men, Official Members of Jamiat Ullma and of the Ittahadul Muslimeen, the staffs and students of some Educational Institutions, Members of the Progressive Writers Association and of the Hindustani Parchar Sabha, etc., were addressed by members of the delegation.
Amongst important men and officials interviewed by us may be mentioned H.E.H. the Nizam, H.E. the Prince of Berar, Major General Choudhri, Mr. Bakhlo, the Chief Civil Administrator, Swami Ramanand Tirtha, Dr. Malkote, Messrs Ramchander Rao, Ramachari, K. Vadya, Venkat Rao and Abul Hassan Sayed Ali, Nawab Ali Yawar Jung, Nawab Zain Yar Jung, Raja Dhonde Raj, Moulana Abu Yousuf, Moulvi Abdul Khair, and Moulvi Hameed uddin Qamar Farooqi.
At all these meetings and interviews the main problem discussed was that of the creation and maintenance of cordial relations between the communities. Appeals were made to the people to forget the past and to work unremittingly for the establishment of p eace and harmony amongst themselves. The aim and policy of the Indian Union was also explained and special emphasis was laid on the objective which was the establishment of a secular government for the people of Hyderabad, in which all of them irrespecti ve of religion, caste or creed will enjoy equal freedom and civil rights and will have equal opportunities for development and progress. It was made perfectly clear that the military administration had been charged with the duty of implementing that poli cy. We clarified our position, whenever opportunity presented itself saying that ours was not a Commission of investigation or Inquiry into events proceeding or following the police action and that ours was merely a goodwill mission charged with the task of restoring better communal relations. All the same, we feel it our duty to bring to your notice what we saw and gathered in our tourings, as it has, in our opinion, an importance all its own.
(2) Hyderabad State has 16 districts, comprising nearly 22,000 villages. Out of them only three districts remained practically, though not wholly, free of communal trouble which affected the state first during the activities of the Razakars and then duri ng the reprisals that followed the collapse of that organisation. In another four districts the trouble had been more serious but nothing like the havoc that overtook the remaining eight. Out of these again the worst sufferers have been the districts of Osmanabad, Gulburga, Bidar and Nanded, in which four the number of people killed during and after the police action was not less, if not more than 18,000. In the other four districts viz. Aurangabad, Bir, Nalgunda and Medak those who lost their lives num bered at least 5 thousand.
We can say at a very conservative estimate that in the whole state at least 27 thousand to 40 thousand people lost their lives during and after the police action. We were informed by the authorities that those eight were the most affected districts and n eeded most the good offices of our delegation. We, therefore, concentrated on these and succeeded, we might say, to some extent at least, in dispelling the atmosphere of mutual hostility and distrust.
It is a significant fact that out of these eight the four worst affected districts (Osmanabad, Gulburga, Bidar and Nanded) had been the main strongholds of Razakars and the people of these four districts had been the worst sufferers at the hands of the R azakars. In the town of Latur, the home of Kasim Razvi – which had been a big business centre, with rich Kuchhi Muslim merchants, the killing continued for over twenty days. Out of a population of about ten thousand Muslims there we found barely three th ousand still in the town. Over a thousand had been killed and the rest had run away with little else besides their lives and completely ruined financially.
(3) Almost everywhere in the affected areas communal frenzy did not exhaust itself in murder, alone in which at some places even women and children were not spared. Rape, abduction of women (sometimes out of the state to Indian towns such as Sholapur and Nagpur) loot, arson, desecration of mosques, forcible conversions, seizure of houses and lands, followed or accompanied the killing. Tens of crores worth of property was looted or destroyed. The sufferers were Muslims who formed a hopeless minority in r ural areas. The perpetrators of these atrocities were not limited to those who had suffered at the hands of Razakars, not to the non-Muslims of Hyderabad state. These latter were aided and abetted by individuals and bands of people, with and without arms , from across the border, who had infiltrated through in the wake of the Indian Army. We found definite indications that a number of armed and trained men belonging to a well known Hindu communal organisation from Sholapur and other Indian towns as also some local and outside communists participated in these riots and in some cases actually led the rioters.
(4) Duty also compels us to add that we had absolutely unimpeachable evidence to the effect that there were instances in which men belonging to the Indian Army and also to the local police took part in looting and even other crimes. During our tour we ga thered, at not a few places, that soldiers encouraged, persuaded and in a few cases even compelled the Hindu mob to loot Muslim shops and houses. At one district town the present Hindu head of the administration told us that there was a general loot of M uslim shops by the military. In another district a Munsif house, among others was looted by soldiers and a Tahsildar’s wife molested. Complaints of molestation and abduction of girls, against Sikh soldiers particularly, were by no means rare. We were gen erally told that at many places out of the looted property cash, gold and silver was taken away by military while other articles fell to the share of the mob. Unfortunately there was a certain element in the army which was not free from communal feelings probably because some of them could not forget the atrocities committed elsewhere on their own kith and kin.
Lest we might be understood to imply a slur on the Indian army we hasten to record our considered opinion that the Indian Army and its officers in Hyderabad generally maintained a high standard of discipline and sense of duty. In General Choudhri we foun d a man without any tinge of communal prejudice, a firm disciplinarian and thorough gentleman.
We were given by Muslims instances in which Hindus had defended and given protection to their Muslim neighbours, men and women even at the cost of their own lives. In some professions the fellow feeling was particularly marked. For instance at places Hin du weavers defended Muslim weavers against Hindu and protected them often at a very heavy cost (including loss of life) to themselves. Many Hindus helped in the recovery of abducted Muslim women.
(5) This communal trouble followed close upon the heels of the police action and the consequent collapse of the Razakar organisation, which had stood in the Muslim mind, as an effective barrier against the establishment of responsible government which wa s synonymous, to the average Hyderabadi Muslim, with Hindu Raj, because it would be based on the will of the Hindu majority. Muslim masses were generally slow to realise that their sufferings were the inevitable repercussions of the atrocities committed on the Hindus only, a few days before, by the Razakars. The Razakars movement had the sympathy of a good number of Muslimans in Hyderabad. Such of them as dared publicly to oppose that madness paid heavily for their temerity, so much so that one of them fell before the bullet of an assassin. Like the Razakars the perpetrators of crimes against the Muslims encouraged the belief that they had the backing of the authorities…
Before closing we must gratefully acknowledge the valuable help and willing cooperation given to us by the Military Administration in Hyderabad, by Government officials in the districts we visited, by public workers and prominent citizens and lastly by o ur two Secretaries Messrs Furrukh Sayer and P.P. Ambulkar.