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- Nizams resistance to join India
- Annexation of Hyderabad State
- Communal violence before the operation
- Hyderabadi military preparations
- Skirmish at Kodar
- Indian military preparations
P a g e
with the British and French supporting competing factions. This resulted in a period of
internal instability as two Nizams (Nasir Jung and Muzaffar Jung) ruled in rapid
succession, each being assassinated by a rival faction. The combined duration of their
rule was just four years. The fourth Nizam, Mir Ali Salabat Jung, came to the throne on
French instigation and his rule prevailed for 12 years. This period marked the height of
French influence in the Nizam's dominions.
Mir Ali Salabat Jung's successor was Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jah II, who gained the
territories of Aurangabad, Bidar and Sholapur in various battles with the Marathas.
Though Asaf Jah-II ruled for over 50 years, the Nizam's dominions lost considerable
power and more importantly, land to both the British and the French due to infighting
and debts owed to the foreign powers. He ceded the territory of Northern Circars
(present day Coastal Andhra region of the state of Andhra Pradesh) to the French as a
gift 'for perpetuity', while British, French and Hyder Ali annexed the Carnatic regions.
The Nizam was criticized for failing to form an alliance with Hyder Ali of the Kingdom of
Mysore, a move which could have countered the increasing influence of the British in
the Deccan. In this time, with the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo, the British
also replaced the French as the supreme colonial power in the Indian sub-continent.
The British also fought a war with Mysore, which increased its clout in the Deccan and,
by 1800, the Nizam's dominions came into a state of near-suzerainty under the British.
During the British Raj
By 1801, the Nizam's dominion assumed the shape it is now remembered for:
that of a landlocked princely state with territories in central Deccan, bounded on all
sides by British India, whereas 150 years earlier it had considerable coastline on the
Bay of Bengal.
During the Mutiny of 1857, Salar Jung chose to side with the British, thereby
earning the title of 'Faithful Ally' for Hyderabad. This action causes some regret among
modern patriots, because had the Nizam's dominions sided with the rebel forces, the
British would have been greatly weakened. Hyderabad was as important to the South of
India as Delhi was to the North. However, this did not happen and Hyderabad was one
of several independent kingdoms of India to side with the British. In 1857, when the rule
of the East India Company came to an end and British India came under the direct rule
of the Crown, Hyderabad continued to be one of the most important of the princely
states. Twenty years later, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.
The senior-most (23-gun) salute state during the period of British India,
Hyderabad was an 82,000 square mile (212,000 km²) region in the Deccan, ruled by the
head of the Asif Jahi dynasty, who had the title of Nizam and on whom was bestowed
the style of "His Exalted Highness" by the British. Development within the state of
Hyderabad grew as Salar Jung and the Nizams founded schools, colleges, madrasas
and a university that imparted education in Urdu. Inspired by the elite and prestigious
P a g e
Indian Civil Service, the Nizam founded the Hyderabad Civil Service. The pace with
which the last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, amassed wealth made him one of the world's
richest men in the 1930s. Carrying a gift, called Nazrana, in accordance with one's net
worth while meeting the Nizam, was a de facto necessity.
Various major industries emerged in various parts of the State of Hyderabad
before its incorporation into the Union of India, especially during the first half of the
twentieth century. Hyderabad city had a separate powerplant for electricity. However,
the Nizams focused industrial development on the region of Sanathnagar, housing a
number of industries there with transportation facilities by both road and rail.
Karkhana Zinda Tilismat
Vazir Sultan Tobacco Company,Charminar cigarette factory
Azam Jahi Mills Warangal
Nizam Sugar Factory
Allwyn Metal Works
Deccan Airways Limited
The Imperial Bank of India opened a branch in Hyderabad in 1868, and a second
branch in Secunderabad in 1906. Central Bank of India opened its branch in Hyderabad
in 1918 and a second branch in Secunderabad in 1925.
Until 1948, Gulbarga district, now part of Karnataka state, was part of Hyderabad
state. Saraswati Bank, established in Gulbarga in 1918, had a branch in Hyderabad.
The Gulbarga Banking Company, established in 1930, however, did not.
In 1935 Raja Pannalal Pitti founded the Mercantile Bank of Hyderabad.
In 1942 the Nizam established Hyderabad State Bank to conduct treasury
operations for the state government, and other banking. In 1947 there was a proposal
that Hyderabad State Bank would be allowed to establish a branch in Karachi, and that
as a quid-pro-quo Habib Bank would be allowed to establish a branch in Hyderabad.
Partition and Operation Polo, the Indian invasion of Hyderabad that annexed Hyderabad
to India, put an end to this idea. Then in 1952-53, Hyderabad State Bank acquired
Mercantile Bank. Next, in 1956 State Bank of India took over Hyderabad State Bank,
P a g e
which in 1959 became State Bank of Hyderabad, a subsidiary bank of State Bank of
After Indian Independence (1947
Hyderabad state was initially a Subah in the Deccan Plateau. Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf
Jah was appointed Subahdar in 1713 by the Mughals. Hyderabad's effective
independence is dated to 1724, when the Nizam won a military victory over a rival
military appointee. In 1798, Hyderabad became the first Indian royal state to accede to
British protection under the policy of Subsidiary Alliance instituted by Arthur Wellesley.
The State of Hyderabad under the leadership of its 7th Nizam, Mir Usman Ali,
was the largest and most prosperous of all the princely states in India. With annual
revenues of over Rs. 9 crore, it covered 82,698 square miles (214,190 km2) of fairly
homogenous territory and comprised a population of roughly 16.34 million people (as
per the 1941 census) of which a majority (85%) was Hindu. The state had its own army,
airline, telecommunication system, railway network, postal system, currency and radio
broadcasting service. Hyderabad was a multi-lingual state consisting of peoples
speaking Telugu (48.2%), Marathi (26.4%), Kannada (12.3%) and Urdu (10.3%). In
spite of the overwhelming Hindu majority, Hindus were severely under-represented in
government, police and the military. Of 1765 officers in the State Army, 1268 were
Muslims, 421 were Hindus, and 121 others were Christians, Parsis and Sikhs. Of the
officials drawing a salary between Rs.600
1200 per month, 59 were Muslims, 5 were
Hindus and 38 were of other religions. The Nizam and his nobles, who were mostly
Muslims, owned 40% of the total land in the state
When the British finally departed from the Indian subcontinent in 1947, they
offered the various princely states in the sub-continent the option of acceding to either
India or Pakistan, or staying on as an independent state. Several large states, including
Hyderabad, declined to join either India or Pakistan. Hyderabad had been part of the
calculations of all-India political parties since the 1930s. The leaders of the new Union
of India were wary of a Balkanization of India if Hyderabad was left independent.
Hyderabad state had been steadily becoming more theocratic since the
beginning of the 20th century. In 1926, Mahmud Nawazkhan, a retired Hyderabad
official, founded the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (also known as Ittehad or MIM) in
1926. "Its objectives were to unite the Muslims in the State in support of Nizam and to
reduce the Hindu majority by large-scale conversion to Islam". The MIM became a
powerful communal organization, with the principal focus to marginalize the political
aspirations of Hindus and moderate Muslims.
P a g e
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 by the last
Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma.
According to historian and author A. G. Noorani, Indian Prime Minister Nehru's
concern was to defeat Hyderabad's secessionist venture, but he favoured talks and
considered military option as a last resort. Sardar Patel of the Indian National Congress,
however, took a hard line, and had no patience with talks. Noorani states, "Patel hated
the Nizam personally, and ideologically opposed Hyderabad's composite culture."
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 for one year. According to this agreement India would handle
Hyderabad‘s foreign affairs, but Indian Army troops stationed in Secunderabad would
be removed. Unlike in the case of other royal states, instead of an explicit guarantee of
eventual accession to India, only a guarantee stating that Hyderabad would not join
Pakistan was given. Negotiations were opened through K.M. Munshi
, India‘s envoy and
agent general to Hyderabad, and the Nizam‘s envoys,
Laik Ali and Sir Walter Monckton.
Both sides accused the other of violating the Standstill Agreement. The Indians
accused the Hyderabad government of importing arms from Pakistan. Hyderabad had
given Rs. 200 million to Pakistan, and had stationed a bomber squadron there.
According to Taylor C. Sherman, "India claimed that the government of Hyderabad was
edging towards independence by divesting itself of its Indian securities, banning the
Indian currency, halting the export of ground nuts, organising illegal gun-running from
Pakistan, and inviting new recruits to its army and to its irregular forces, the Razakars."
The Hyderabadi envoys accused India of setting up armed barricades on all land routes
and of attempting to economically isolate their nation.
In the summer of 1948, Indian officials, especially Patel, signaled an intention to
invade; Britain encouraged India to resolve the issue without the use of force, but
refused Nizam's requests to help. In June 1948, Mountbatten prepared the 'Heads of
Agreement' deal which offered Hyderabad the status of an autonomous dominion nation
under India. The deal called for the restriction of the regular Hyderabadi armed forces
along with a disbanding of its voluntary forces. While it allowed the Nizam to continue as
the executive head of the state, it called for a plebiscite along with general democratic
elections to set up a constituent assembly. The Hyderabad government would continue
to administer its territory as before, leaving only foreign affairs to be handled by the
Although the plan was approved and signed by the Indians, it was rejected by the
Nizam who demanded only complete independence or the status of a dominion under
the British Commonwealth.
P a g e
The Nizam also made unsuccessful attempts to seek the arbitration of the
President Harry S. Truman of the United States of America and intervention of the
The communists were as surprised as everyone else to see their efforts
culminate in a series of successful attempts at organising the rebellion and the
distribution of land. With the Nizam holding on, even after the proclamation of Indian
independence, the communists stepped up their campaign, stating that the flag of the
Indian union was also the flag of the people of Hyderabad, much against the wishes of
the ruling Asaf Jah dynasty.
The revolt started in 1946 against the oppressive feudal lords and quickly spread
to the Warangal and Bidar districts in around 4000 villages. Peasant farmers and
labourers revolted against local feudal landlords (jagirdars and deshmukhs), who were
ruling the villages known as samsthans. These samsthans were ruled mostly by Reddys
and Velama, known as doralu.
They ruled over the communities in the village and managed the tax collections
(revenues) and owned almost all the land in that area. The Nizam had little control over
these regions except the capital, Hyderabad. Chakali Ilamma, belonging to the Rajaka
caste, had revolted against 'zamindar' Ramachandra Reddy, during the struggle when
he tried to take her 4 acres of land. Her revolt inspired many to join the movement.
The agitation led by communists was successful in taking over 3000 villages from
the feudal lords and 10,00,000 acres of agriculture land was distributed to landless
peasants. Around 4000 peasants lost their lives in the struggle fighting feudal private
It later became a fight against Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII. The initial
modest aims were to do away with the illegal and excessive exploitation meted out by
these feudal lords in the name of bonded labour. The most strident demand was for the
writing off of all debts of the peasants that were manipulated by the feudal lords.
With Hyderabad's administration failing after 1945, the Nizam succumbed to the
pressure of the Muslim elite and started the Razzakar Movement. At the same, time the
Nizam was resisting the Indian government's efforts to bring the Hyderabad state into
the Indian Union. The government sent the army in September 1948 to annex the
P a g e
Hyderabad state into Indian Union. The Communist party had already instigated the
peasants to use guerrilla tactics against the Razzakars and around 3000 villages (about
41000 km2) had come under peasant rule. The landlords were either killed or driven out
and the land was redistributed. These victorious villages established communes
reminiscent of Soviet mirs to administer their region. These community governments
were integrated regionally into a central organization. The rebellion was led by the
Communist Party of India under the banner of Andhra Mahasabha.
Among the well-known individuals at the forefront of the movement were Ravi
Narayana Reddy, Maddikayala Omkar, Maddikayala Lakshmi Omkar, Puchalapalli
Sundarayya, Pillaipalli Papireddy, Suddala Hanmanthu, Chandra Rajeswara Rao,
Bommagani Dharma Bhiksham, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Sulaiman Areeb, Hassan Nasir,
Manthrala Adi Reddy, Bhimreddy Narasimha Reddy, Mallu Venkata Narasimha Reddy,
Mallu Swarajyam, Lankala Raghava Reddy, Kukudal Jangareddy, Aruthla Ramchandra
Reddy, Krishna Murthy, Aruthula Kamaladevi and Bikumalla Sathyam.
The violent phase of the movement ended in 1951, when the last guerilla squads
were subdued in the Telangana region.
The rebellion and the subsequent police action led to the capture of Hyderabad
state from the Nizam's rule on 17 September 1948 and after a temporary military
administration the dominion was eventually merged into the Indian Union. In the
process tens of thousands of people lost their lives, the majority of them Muslims.
The Last Nizam Asaf Jah VII was made the Rajpramukh of the Hyderabad State
from 26 January 1950 to 31 October 1956. The 1952 elections led to the victory of the
Congress party in Hyderabad state. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was first chief minister of
the Hyderabad state from 1952 to 1956. In 1956, Hyderabad State was merged with
Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh State. It was again separated from Andhra
Pradesh into the Telangana State in 2014.
The revolt ensured the victory of the Communist Party in Andhra Pradesh in the
1952 elections. Land reforms were recognised as important and various acts were
passed to implement them.
In popular culture
Krishan Chander's famous Hindi/Urdu novella Jab Khet Jage was based on the
Dasaradhi Rangacharya's famous trilogy chillara devullu, Moduga pulu,
Janapadam written to depict before, on and after effects of Telangana Rebellion.
P a g e
Filmmaker Gautam Ghose gained acclaim in 1979 when he made his first Telugu
feature film Ma Bhoomi.
palletoori pillagaada was a famous song during the rebellion, written by Suddala
Communal violence before the operation
In the 1936
37 Indian elections, the Muslim League under Muhammad Ali Jinnah
had sought to harness Muslim aspirations, and had won the adherence of MIM leader
Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung, who campaigned for an Islamic State centred on the Nizam
as the Sultan dismissing all claims for democracy. The Arya Samaj, a Hindu revivalist
movement, had been demanding greater access to power for the Hindu majority since
the late 1930s, and was curbed by the Nizam in 1938. The Hyderabad State Congress
joined forces with the Arya Samaj as well as the Hindu Mahasabha in the State.
Noorani regards the MIM under Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung as explicitly committed
to safeguarding the rights of religious and linguistic minorities. However, this changed
with the ascent of Qasim Razvi after the Nawab's death in 1944.
Even as India and Hyderabad negotiated, most of the sub-continent had been
thrown into chaos as a result of communal Hindu-Muslim riots pending the imminent
partition of India. Fearing a Hindu civil uprising in his own kingdom, the Nizam allowed
Razvi to set up a voluntary militia of Muslims called the 'Razakars'. The Razakars
numbered up to 200,000 at the height of the conflict
swore to uphold Islamic
domination in Hyderabad and the Deccan plateau in the face of growing public opinion
amongst the majority Hindu population favouring the accession of Hyderabad into the
According to an account by Mohammed Hyder, a civil servant in Osmanabad
district, a variety of armed militant groups, including Razakars and Deendars and ethnic
militias of Pathans and Arabs claimed to be defending the Islamic faith and made claims
on the land. "From the beginning of 1948 the Razakars had extended their activities
from Hyderabad city into the towns and rural areas, murdering Hindus, abducting
women, pillaging houses and fields, and looting non-Muslim property in a widespread
reign of terror." "Some women became victims of rape and kidnapping by Razakars.
Thousands went to jail and braved the cruelties perpetuated by the oppressive
administration. Due to the activities of the Razakars, thousands of Hindus had to flee
from the state and take shelter in various camps‖. An official count by the Go
is hard to come by. This led to terrorizing of the Hindu community, some of whom went
across the border into independent India and organized raids into Nizam's territory,
which further escalated the violence. Many of these raiders were controlled by the
Congress leadership in India and had links with extremist religious elements in the
Hindutva fold. In all, more than 150 villages (of which 70 were in Indian territory outside
Hyderabad State) were pushed into violence.
P a g e
Hyder mediated some efforts to minimize the influence of the Razakars. Razvi,
while generally receptive, vetoed the option of disarming them, saying that with the
Hyderabad state army ineffective, the Razakars were the only means of self-defence
available. By the end of August 1948, a full blown invasion by India was imminent.
Nehru was reluctant to invade, fearing a military response by Pakistan. India was
unaware that Pakistan had no plans to use arms in Hyderabad, unlike Kashmir where it
had admitted its troops were present. Time magazine pointed out that if India invaded
Hyderabad, the Razakars would massacre Hindus, which would lead to retaliatory
massacres of Muslims across India.
The Nizam was in a weak position as his army numbered only 24,000 men, of
whom only some 6,000 were fully trained and equipped. 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. This
army was commanded by Major General El Edroos, an Arab. 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 Kasim 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.
On 6 September 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
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