History of massacres, illegal occupation, destruction of Hyderabad by India

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Moin Ansari:
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.
Read more of this post

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India’s Hypocritical ‘Democracy’

Sylvia Villalobos (Philippines) | PKKH:

The “largest democracy in the world” does not have clean human rights records. Every year, thousands of people are imprisoned for political reasons, often without charges of trials. Torture and ill-treatment are common, and hundreds have died in custody. Hundreds more are victims of extra-judicial executions or forced “disappearances”. Armed groups commit grave human rights violations, including killings, tortures and rapes, with impunity.

Each day the survivors are denied their rights to knowledge, justice and reparation, their anguish are compounded, their nightmare prolonged, and their alienation deepened. Until India ends impunity for these genocidal killings,”, “it will continue to be a nation ruled by men, and not the law.”

Innumerable attacks on Indian Buddhists — shame on democracy There are 231 rapes and 51 murdered last year. The families are helpless, only hope is help from world community !

INDIA’S HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS

“Thousands of mothers await their sons even though some may know that that the oppressor has not spared their sons’ lives on this earth. A mother’s heart is such that even if she sees her son’s dead body, she does not accept that her son has left her. And those mothers who have not even seen their children’s dead bodies, they were asking us: at least find out, is our son alive or not?”

In the typical scenario, police take into custody a suspected militant or militant supporter without filing an arrest report. If the detainee dies during interrogation or is executed, officials deny he was ever in custody and claim he died during an armed encounter with police or security forces. Alternatively, police may claim to have been ambushed by militants while escorting a suspect. Although the detainee invariably dies in “crossfire,” police casualties in these “incidents” are rare. The said practice is also known as “fake encounter killings“

In the majority of cases, the police abducted the victims of extrajudicial executions or “disappearances” in the presence of witnesses, often family members. Family members of the victims further experienced multiple forms of abuse. A recent study conducted by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Bellevue/NYU Medical Center Program for Survivors of Torture revealed that family members of the “disappeared” were also tortured in over half of the cases they investigated.

MASS CREMATION

-Jaswant Singh Khalra, human rights activist, killed October 1995 see reporthttp://www.panthkhalsa.org/panth/khalra.php

http://www.ensaaf.org/programs/legal/khalra/

In early 1995, human rights activists Jaswant Singh Khalra and Jaspal Singh Dhillon, of the Akali Dal political party, used government crematoria records to expose over 6,000 secret cremations by the police in just one of then 13 districts in Punjab. They focused their investigations on illegal cremations, putting aside other possible ends of the victims’ bodies, such as dismemberment or dumping in canals. Jaswant Singh Khalra described how the hesitation of family members to report “disappearances” led him and Dhillon to the cremation grounds: “countless mothers, countless sisters weren’t ready to say that their loved one has “disappeared”]. They said, “[I]f you take this issue further, and our son is still alive, they [the police] will kill him.” Thus, Khalra and Dhillon went to the cremation grounds:

“We went and asked the employees: ‘During this time, how many dead bodies did the police give you?’ Some said we burned eight to 10 everyday. Some said there was no way to keep account; sometimes a truck full of bodies came, and sometimes two to four dead bodies came [T]hey told us we could get the account from one place: ‘The police gave us the dead bodies, and the municipal committee gave us the firewood.’”

As Khalra began collecting information from the municipal records which gave the number of dead bodies brought by specific police officers and the amount of firewood purchased to burn the bodies, he also began to receive threats from the security forces. Eventually, the Punjab police abducted Jaswant Singh Khalra on September 6, 1995, secretly detained and tortured him for almost two months, and murdered him in late October 1995. His body was dumped in a canal.

Photo essays

http://www.hrw.org/legacy/photos/2007/india1007/index.htm

Punjab Mass cremation http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2007/10/17/protecting-killers

Custodial Violence and Rape Cases

While rape may take the form of individual violence of men against women, often, as disturbingly, rape occurs as an instrument of repression, and is used as a political weapon. It then becomes a potent instrument for the intimidation of whole sections of people in which women are specifically the victims of a peculiarly brutal and dehumanizing form of violence. Violence by individual men on individual women is itself a serious violation of women’s rights but in the context of civil liberties it is important to highlight the growing incidence of custodial rape by agencies of the State such as forest officials, army personnel, and especially by policemen.

Custody deaths, torture in custody and custodial rape have been subjects of much concern. of state violence, and the defence of the state has been that they were hardened militants.

Custodial rape has found an expanded definition – in terms of power rape – in the Penal Code, 1860. However, these provisions have hardly been invoked. In the meantime, most often, judicial perceptions of the victim of custodial rape have in significant measure, discredited the victim’s version, and blamed the victim resulting in reduction of sentence for policemen convicted of rape to less than the minimum prescribed in law. Read more of this post

Is India secular?

There is always a big gap between theory and practice; same is the case with Indian Constitution and governance. Indian Constitution is secular in spirit and if implemented truly, India would be an ideal country to live in especially for minorities both religious as well as linguistic. However, in reality this ideal situation is lacking in India and all the successive governments of India hardly paid any attention to minority rights and issues.

This situation has led to the suppression of minorities in almost all walks of life in addition to majority violence against them. In India, everyone accord priority to their caste, communal and religious identity over the national one. National rhetoric seemed to have disappeared. Hindutva forces talk more of Hindu religion than of nationalism and this trend is weakening the fiber of secularism and creating irritants among Indian people of different religious and linguistic identities.

Being in majority the Hindus are pursuing convergence of India into a Hindu state by submerging minority identities as their moral and social obligation. For this they are employing different techniques such as converting minority identities into Hindu mainstream, killing minorities and damaging their properties and trying to throw all minorities out of India.

The communal violence in India traces back its history to the riots in Ahmadabad in 1969 in which more than 1000 people were killed and Bhivandi in 1970 in which 400 people lost their lives. Somehow, the Indian government managed to control communal violence up till 1977. In 1977 major riots broke in several places in Jamshedpur, Aligarh and Varanasi between Hindus and Muslims. The year 1984 marked the operation blue star and killing of thousands of Sikhs. Apart from Muslims this was a major blow to another minority community. In 1992 Muslims once again became the victim of majority violence. After the demolition of Babri mosque riots erupted not only in Ayodhya but also in Mumbai killing thousands of Muslims. The tragedy of Gujarat pogrom 2002 has no precedent in Indian history. In these riots Hindus killed and looted Muslims with complete impunity and support from police and government.

Recently, communal riots rocked the Maharashtra state of India. The riots started in Miraj, Sangli district on 2 September 2009 when the Hindu extremist organizations such as ShivSena put up a structure depicting Maratha warrior Shivaji slaying Mughal General Afzal Khan. This hurt the emotions of the Muslim population of the area and they protested against this. As a result, Hindus started riots against Muslims. A Hindu Mob forced entry into a Muslim house and assaulted people, terrorizing the entire area. Hindu mobs also indulged in stone pelting and arson in Tasgaon, Ashta and took out a protest rally in Kadgaon area. The Hindus also threw a dead pig in a mosque area in Gawli.

The whole situation was created by the Hindu extremist organizations to create division between the communities ahead of the forthcoming legislative polls in the state. Muslims were protesting for the past one month against the structure erected for the Ganesh festival. This is not the first time that such an activity is done by extremist Hindus before elections. This technique of them is quite old. They firstly demolished Babri mosque and when Muslims protested against this they started full fledged riots in Ayodhya. Similar is the case in Gujarat, Hindu extremist parties killed their own people in order to get an excuse to start a backlash against Muslims.

They used the same technique in Miraj, a Muslim majority town of Sangli district of Maharashtra. They hurt the sentiments of Muslims by erecting an objectionable structure and when Muslims protested they started riots. In order to pacify the Muslim population the government removed the controversial structure in Miraj. At this BJP and Shiv Sena activists protested and demanded the reinstatement of the structure for the Ganesh festival threatening that festival will not resume until its reinstatement. Police arrested 200 Shiv Sena and BJP activists on the pretext on fueling the already fragile situation.

The BJP’s politics is driven by the principle of “majority is authority.” Power is to be derived through majority and can be used to redefine and legitimize anything and everything. Hence, India witnessed more communal riots during BJP rule. BJP provided full support to other Hindu extremist organizations such as Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Praishad authorizing all these organizations to unleash their own terror on minority communities.

The Christians who hardly face any violence against them witnessed severe riots during BJP rule. The Anti-Christian violence in India has increased in recent years and is often perpetrated by Hindu extremists. There have been multiple incidents of such violence since the BJP began its rule at the center in March 1998. From 1964 to 1996, 38 incidents of violence against Christians were reported.

In 1997, 24 such incidents were reported. Since 1998, Christians in India have faced a wave of violence. In 1998 alone, 90 incidents were reported. In June 2000, four churches around India were bombed. In Andhra Pradesh, church graves were desecrated. A church in Maharashtra was ransacked. In September 2008, two churches were partly damaged in Kerala. The Times of London called September 2008 violence as the worst anti-Christian violence in India since independence (in 1947). Under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution, discrimination on the grounds of religion is prohibited. Article 25 guarantees the right to freely practice and propagate religion while Articles 26, 28 and 30 ensure the freedom to manage religious affairs, to attend religious instruction or religious worship. Despite the presence of such detailed and comprehensive legislation the government has allowed organisations like the Bajrang Dal to conduct training camps, and issue harassing statements without the fear of retribution.

The need of the hour is to have an absolute and appropriate response from the government side. India preaches democracy and rule of law but does not practice it. The image of India abroad is of a tolerant country but the reality is otherwise as democracy notion include protection of minorities. The Hindu fundamentalists must be forced to end the persecution of the poor and hapless minorities in India. India’s political system based on democratic pluralism theoretically provides space for all ethnic groups and sub-nationalities.

But, in actuality, there have been severe deficiencies in the way it functions. Suffice it to say, political empowerment of the people is still far from complete, even after six decades of independence. Despite an overarching commitment to respecting citizens’ freedom to express their views, peacefully protest, and form their own organizations, the Indian government lacks the will and capacity to implement many laws and policies designed to ensure the protection of rights. There is a pattern of denial of justice and impunity, whether it is in cases of human rights violations by security forces, or the failure to protect women, children, and marginalized groups such Dalits, tribal groups, and religious minorities. The failure to properly investigate and prosecute those responsible leads to continuing abuses. The government has failed to protect vulnerable communities including Dalits, tribal groups, and religious minorities such as Sikhs, Muslims and Christians.Mamoona Ali Kazmi

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