Hyderabad Princely State
For centuries, Hyderabad Princely state was under Nizam Rule. Unlike most other parts of India, it was never a part of British India. During the time of Indian Independence in 1947, it consisted of 16 Districts – 8 from Telangana, 5 from Marathwada, and 3 from Karnataka. There were three main languages spoken – Telugu in Telangana districts, Marathi in Marathwada districts, Kannada in Karnataka districts. The kingdom was divided into four administrative divisions – Aurangabad Division (consisting of Marathi speaking people), Gulbarga Division (consisting of Kannada speaking people), Gulshanabad/Medak Division (consisting of Telangana people, including Hyderabad), and Warangal Division (consisting of Telangana people).
Telangana region was under Nizam Rule from 1724 till 1948 spanning 224 years. During Indian Independence and Partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947, the Nizam (king) of Hyderabad Princely State, the largest princely state in the Indian Empire, decided against joining Indian Dominion. India launched a military takeover of the state in 1948, called Operation Polo, resulting in annexation of Hyderabad Princely state into Indian Union.
Life under Nizam
During Nizam Rule, unlike in British India where local languages along with English were given the due importance, only the state language Urdu was the medium of instruction in schools, administration and all official proceedings. The local languages, viz. Telugu, Marathi and Kannada, were suppressed, marginalized and discouraged. By using Urdu as the only officially recognized language, Nizam was able to appease his Muslim subjects, who considered themselves to be belonging to ruler-clan, and thus many elite Muslims were able to obtain jobs and opportunities that were available. Many Hindus and converted Muslims began to get education in Urdu to avail the opportunities. Many people belonging to these regions fought for official recognition of their languages and laid their lives.
Nizam was an autocrat who fleeced people of their wealth. He amassed so much wealth, that he was rated as one of the world’s richest men. Hyderabad state was steeped in extreme forms of subordination, enslavement, bonded labor, where very few jagirdars or zamindars (the landlords) held sway. Nehru described Hyderabad state as ‘an almost perfect feudal relic.’
The whole country was celebrating the Indian Independence obtained on August 15, 1947. The people of Andhra, who were part of Madras Presidency of British India, were also participants in those celebrations. However, the people of Telangana and other regions under the Nizam Rule hadn’t seen the light of freedom. They were still under Nizam and their future was uncertain.
After Indian Independence, Nizam of Hyderabad, who gave allegiance to British Crown and none else, was contemplating various options- which included a new nation for himself, or a merger with Pakistan – but he was not ready to join India. Though majority of his subjects (90%) were Hindus, he being a Muslim, he showed affinity towards Pakistan. Some of his Muslim subjects were ready to join Pakistan though the majority of the people wanted to join Indian Union. There were many revolts in the region. Nizam of Hyderabad cracked down on his subjects with utmost cruelty.
Qasim Razvi and his Razakars
Pakistan was quite interested in the events unfolding in Hyderabad Princely State. Qasim Razvi, a strong proponent of Pro-Pakistan lobby, and his militia, called Razakars, was supported by Pakistan to create unrest in the region.
The Communist Party of India took arms and created a rebellion of peasants against Nizam Rule and the landlords. It was the first of its kind in India where peasants revolted against landlords (called Zamindars) and kicked them out. The land was seized from the landlords and distributed to the landless. Nizam took the help of Razakars to crackdown on rebellion. The infamous Razakar Movement has results in many deaths. Razakars resorted to robbery, rape, murder and arson. Many people escaped to nearby districts in Maharashtra during this time.
Annexation of Hyderabad
Sardar Vallabhai Patel under Nehru Government decided to intervene. The police action, called Operation Polo, was launched on 13th September, 1948. Within four days, Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam, surrendered. So, the people of living in Hyderabad State obtained Independence after one year, on 17th September, 1948.
What followed next is an extremely sad episode of Hyderabad State. 27,000 Muslims or more were killed as a reaction against Razakar Movement. The worst affected regions were rural areas where Muslims were in minority. The badly affected regions were Osmanabad, Gulbarga, Bidar and Nanded. Many Muslims poured into Hyderabad city to escape from Hindu backlash.
From 1948 to 1952, the state remained under civil administrators, during which a spate of Andhra immigration took place to occupy the new positions – as school and college teachers, as bankers, as government officials, etc. Since the new administration required English or Telugu, and since the people of Telangana were not educated in either, it was deemed that the people of Andhra were more qualified for such positions. The learning in Urdu did not come to their aid. Even the Muslims who comprised the ruling clan were now at a disadvantage.
(With inputs from the booklet released by Telangana Development Forum)