By Shaik Ahmed Ali
The death of Bahadur Yar Jung in 1944 created a vacuum in the Muslim leadership. However, it did not decrease the popularity of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen among Muslims. After his death, Abul Hasan Syed Ali became Majlis president and he was succeeded by Mazhar Ali Kamil. Two years later, in 1946, Moulvi Syed Qasim Razvi was elected as the Majlis president.
Qasim Razvi was born in a middle-class family of Latur (now in Maharashtra) on 31st May, 1900. He did his graduation in law from the Aligarh Muslim University. When Bahadur Yar Jung appealed to the Muslims for funds, he donated all his properties to Majlis. Bahadur Yar Jung himself gave him the title of “Siddiq-e-Deccan” for this act. By donating whatever he owned, he emulated the first caliph of Islam Hazrath Abu Bakar Siddiq who donated everything for Islam.
Many historians described Qasim Razvi as honest and brave, but an emotional politician. According to Badar Shakeeb who authored “Hyderabad Ka Urooj Aur Zawal” (The Rise & Fall of Hyderabad) in 1964, Qasim Razvi was a good orator, but he had no control over words. His speeches repeatedly provoked the Indian Union in general and the Indian Army in particular. He had no idea about the military strength of either Hyderabad or the Indian Union. His hate speeches also angered the Hindu population. Even his deputies used to speak in the same tone. Their speeches and tall claims created a wrong impression that every Muslim in Hyderabad was a Razakar. Though none of them lost anything, but such speeches indirectly led to the massacre of lakhs of Muslims during Police Action. Razvi never tolerated criticism nor had the ability to take advise from others. But despite all negativities, he was honest towards the Muslim community and the Hyderabad State.
But another author M.A.Azeez in his book “Police Action” gives a different picture of Qasim Razvi. According to Azeez, many speeches or statements which hurt the Hindu sentiments were attributed to him and he was defamed in a systematic manner. Primarily, the Hyderabad lobby comprising of Nawabs, Jagirdars, Senior officials in Nizam’s government and others were not happy with Razvi getting elected as the President of a powerful organization – Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
Mohammad Mazheruddin, a close friend of Qasim Razvi, in his book “Police Action ke khaufnak mahaul mein” stated that Razvi was a very pious person. He never had any kind of hatred towards the Hindus and that was the reason why several non-Muslims also joined the Razakar movement to defend Hyderabad. He even instructed all the Majlis workers that they should not collect any donation from Hindus for the organisation. But he used to hate people who were against the freedom and sovereignty of Hyderabad on religious grounds.
Another historian Narendra Luther described Kasim Razvi as the man who gave Hyderabad its only traumatic experience in its history. “More than anybody else, he invited the ‘Police Action’ on Hyderabad”, he said.
Qasim Razvi was elected as Majlis president at the fag end of 1946. The years – 1947 and 1948 have witnessed so many changes that the situation became highly volatile in Hyderabad and all his reactions and moves were termed as anti-Hindu or anti-India. The partition of India, brutal communal riots in different parts of the country and the arrival of nearly 10 lakh Muslim refugees from India to Hyderabad aggravated the communal atmosphere.
Unlike Bahadur Yar Jung who confronted the Nizam, Qasim Razvi not only tried to be friendly, but he projected himself as the savior of the Nizam’s throne. He even claimed that he would hoist the flag of Asafjahi Dynasty on Red Fort and the waves of Bay of Bengal would wash the feet of Nizam. Another author Akhtar Hussain, one of the members of the Progressive Writers Association, after meeting Qasim Razvi once quoted him as saying “There is no institution of kingship in Islam, but we want to keep our King alive, administering him morphine so as to guard the interests of Muslims and it is in their interests that this state should continue its existence.” This shows that Razvi was under the impression that he was using the Nizam to protect the Muslim community.
Despite the contradictions, Razvi’s honesty towards Muslims and Hyderabad State was undisputable although it got superceded by emotions and political ignorance.
However, the ugliest role in this part of the history was played by the Nizam himself. He was an extremely selfish, greedy and power-hungry king. He tried all means to stay in power. At one side, he projected himself as the last sign of Muslim power and some of his sycophants used to praise him saying that “Teri hukumat se Musalmanon ka nishaan baaki hai” (Muslims are in existence because of your kingdom). But on the other side, he was trying to project himself as a secular king. Several historians quoted Nizam as saying that Hindus and Muslims were like his two eyes. But he apparently failed to realise that both his ‘eyes’ were not happy with him and they were not willing to see what he was wanted to see through them..i.e., continuance of his rule.
India achieved independence on 15th August 1947. On the same day, the Nizam too declared independence of Hyderabad State. He declared, “We are neither with free India nor with Pakistan, we are free and independent.” He went to Mecca Masjid to offer thanksgiving prayer. A congratulatory meeting was held at Abids crossroads because now His Highness had become “His Majesty”. Offerings were made to him at this meeting.
The Nizam had made it clear that unlike other Native States he would not sign the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Government after independence. He sent a three-member delegation to Delhi for talks with Lord Mountbatten. The talks dragged on until the end of September1947. After tortuous negotiations, the Nizam finally entered into a `Stand Still Agreement’ on November 29, 1947, with India for one year to maintain status quo, which existed between the British and the Nizam before August 15, 1947. In the meanwhile, the Nizam sent a delegation to the U.N.O. to refer the Hyderabad case to the Security Council.
Several authors have elaborated on how and why the ‘Stand Still Agreement’ was violated and the reasons that led the Indian Union to send army for the annexation of Hyderabad. A strong case was built against the Nizam accusing him of violating the agreement conditions. A large scale propaganda was carried out portraying the Razakars as barbarians who loot, plunder, rape and kill innocent Hindus. Though several contemporary writers have confirmed that the Razakars did atrocities on Hindus in some areas, there was no large scale violence against the community. Some ‘freedom fighters’ still narrate not easily believable tales of atrocities committed by Razakars.
I found most of those stories to be factually incorrect and exaggerated. They were all part of the war propaganda initiated by the Indian Union. But it is undeniable that the Nizam was trying to use Razakars to defend his throne. Neither Nizam nor Qasim Razvi realised that they were not enjoying the support of the entire Muslim community. The number of Razakars were limited, untrained and were not even armed properly. Both Nizam and Qasim Razvi were neither aware of the military might of the Indian Union nor they were aware of their own strengths.
General J.N.Chowdary who led the ‘Operation Polo’. in his book ‘Armoured Division in Operation Polo’ made some interesting observations. According to him, “the Nizam had a regular army of 22,000 men. They had modern weapons including tanks. Besides these, it has three regiments of armed cars. In addition, it has an irregular army of 10,000 men and nearly 75 per cent of them have light weaponary. Arab Army is of nearly 10,000 men with light weaponary. Police and Custom Forces too are of 10,000 men armed with modern rifles and sten guns. There are nearly 2 lakh Razakars and nearly 20 per cent of them have modern rifles, guns and pistols. The rest have spears, swords and missile loading guns.”
Chowdary further opined that, “The common Muslims of Hyderabad by nature are not warriors. They are peace-loving and they were tired of Razakar. A majority of them were also not happy with Nizam’s Government. Except for some, common Hindus will support the Indian Union.”
About Nizam’s Army, he said, “Nizam’s Army and Razakars were although more in numbers, but they were not trained in modern warfare. The commander-in-chief Al-Idroos was inefficient and useless person. The army is not happy with him and he was not so loyal to Nizam as he pretends to be. Al-Idroos even used to leak information about his own army.”
Hyderabad State was an inseparable part of India even before the Mughals conquered it and even before it got its name. Hyderabad’s formal merger with India was just a matter of time. Even the Nizam knew it. But the power-hungry Osman Ali Khan tried everything to retain his seat and wealth. But lack of political wisdom led him to trust more on Razakars than on his own army. He could not even sense the political changes that were happening in the kingdom although other intellectuals perfectly observed and predicted the fate of Hyderabad.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s founder Abul Aala Mawdudi too expressed this opinion which has been mentioned in the book, “Mawdudi and the making of Islamic revivalism by Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr”. It says, “Writing on the glories of Islamic history in the last bastion of Muslim rule in India, Mawdudi was pained to see the steady erosion of the power of the Nizam. In later years he lamented that when Hyderabad was ruled by Nizam Osman Ali Pasha, all commerce was in the hands of the Hindus. Mawdudi also came to believe that the communists, who advocated the emancipation of Hyderabad’s mainly Hindu peasants, were agents in a conspiracy against the Muslim rule. He held them responsible for the increasing Hindu belligerency towards the Nizam’s rule.”
Mawdudi further observed, “He no doubt misunderstood the grievances of the poor, and enraptured as he was with the glories of Islamic history and the symbolic meaning of the Nizam’s state, he was unable to distinguish between protecting the political rights of Muslims and defending an unjust socio-political order. He was locked in a communalist outlook, where all social and political questions were subsumed under the Hindu-Muslim conflict. He became increasingly distrustful of the direction that Hindu politics was taking, and as a result, his views on the sailent issues, ideas, and movements of his time were distorted.”
Other observers too predicted the fall of Nizam in 1930s itself. William Dalrymple in his work ‘The lost world of Hyderabad Deccan’ mentioned that, “Yet by the late 30s, more far-sighted observers realised that the Nizam’s world could not last. “All the power was in the hands of the Muslim nobility. They spent money like water, and were terrible, irresponsible landlords, but they could be very charming and sophisticated as well. In many ways Hyderabad was still in the middle-ages and the villages we would pass through were often desperately poor. You couldn’t help feeling that the whole great baroque structure could come crashing down at any minute.”
In all, the political conditions were against the Nizam and he was destined to lose his crown. The agitation against Nizam was gaining strength with the Congress, RSS and other organisations actively participating in both armed and unarmed struggle against the Razakars and Nizam. In Hyderabad proper, the entire Telugu press and a section of Urdu press was also vocal against the Razakars and MIM. Shoaibullah khan was one of those patriotic urdu press men who fearlessly wrote against the Nizam and Razakars. He was brutally murdered as a consequence of his boldness.
The Nizam had reportedly advanced Rs 20 crore as help to Pakistan and stationed a bomber plane there. In fact, the then British Chief of Indian Army, Sir Rob Lockhart, had told Nehru that Pakistan would invade India and Hyderabad too had built up a strong military forces under his pal Gen. El Droos so that it could resist Indian forces for many months. Nizam also made unsuccessful attempts at making President Truman and UNO to back his scheme of independence with the support of Pakistan. But nothing worked in favour of Nizam.
On the other side, Indian Union was ready with its plan of military annexation. On 11th of September 1948, Mohammad Ali Jinnah passed away. While Jinnah’s death was being mourned across India, Pakistan and Hyderabad, Sardar Patel gave go ahead to the Indian Army to annex Hyderabad. On the morning of September 13, 1948, five infantry battalions and an armored regiment led by Gen. Chaudhry entered Hyderabad as a part of ‘Operation Polo’ or popularly called ‘Police Action’.
Razvi gave an emotional speech on 13th September 1948 while addressing the condolence meeting of Mohammad Ali Jinah at Goshamahal Stadium. He informed thousands of audience that India has attacked the Hyderabad. While asking the Muslims to defend Hyderabad, he gave clear instructions, “You should ensure that you do not harm any non-Muslims of our country (Hyderabad). Remember, our war is against the Indian Union, and not against Hindus. You should not attack women, children or elderly people. Don’t attack the unarmed and helpless enemy. Allah never helps those who do attrocities.” This speech during a war-situation clarifies that Razvi was not anti-Hindu as he was projected.
Some historians in their works have mentioned that after hearing this speech, hundreds of Razakars directly marched towards the borders to fight the advancing Indian forces. Most of them, it is believed, were not even properly armed and went to borders with their sticks. However, this could not be substantiated from the documentary records. Those historians have remained silent about the logistical arrangements that Qasim Razvi made to transport those Razakars to border areas. Gen.Chowdhary himself has stated about not facing much resistance. This speech was largely quoted to justify the killing of thousands of Muslims by the Indian Army in ‘self-defence’.
Some historian exaggerated this saying that Qasim Razvi had made feeble attempts to organize the dispersed strength of the Razakkars. History would never forgive him for not prohibiting the dispatch of unarmed Razakkars to the border areas. Quite a few were slain in their enthusiasm with no artillery worth the name and with no squadron stationed at Karachi, as was widely rumoured, a token and helpless struggle lacking planning and foresight against the Indian Union forces with a complete military division lasted for 5 days. The Razakkars were demoralized and fought vain battles. The area commander had no instruction in the event of an attack. With the small army and large frontier to defend, little resistance was in evidence except for the first two days.
But this was the ugliest and bloodiest time the Deccan had ever seen. In just one week, thousands of Muslims were brutally murdered, both by the Indian Army and the Hindu extremists. Those incidents had a great impact on the mindset of the Muslim community. (To Be Continued….)
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