September 05, 2021

BJP’s Yet Another Distortion - This Time, the Struggle against Hyderabad Nizam

R Arun Kumar

COMETH September, Woketh the BJP in Telangana. Since last few years it has become a practice for the BJP leaders to intensify their efforts to distort the history of the heroic struggle of the people of Telangana that brought an end to the autocratic rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad. They are using the day on which Nizam had abdicated his throne – September 17 – to further their campaign. They intend to use the observance of 75th  Independence Day to distort history and spread vish (poison) in the name of amrut (nectar).

Last week in these very pages, we have seen how the RSS led Sangh Parivar is bent upon distorting the Malabar rebellion against the British. Carrying on in a similar vein, they are now attempting to erase the glorious legacy of one of the most important peasant struggles – the Telangana Armed Struggle – from our collective memory.

It is a known, documented and undeniable fact that neither the RSS nor the Hindu Mahasabha had played any role in the Indian freedom struggle. The BJP is using its control over State power to re-write the documents and instill fictitious stories about the participation of RSS in the freedom struggle. The ‘padayatra’ of the BJP state president of Telangana that started on August 28 and is supposed to continue in phases till the next elections to the legislative assembly in 2023, is part of this effort.

The BJP claims that Nizam’s rule in Hyderabad was brought to an end by the active participation of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha cadre who fought against his rule and by the ‘iron-willed’ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then home minister. They claim that because of Patel, the Nizam surrendered unconditionally and Hyderabad became a part of India. In fact, they conveniently remain silent that it was the Nehru-Patel duo, important pillars of the then Indian government, who had conferred the title ‘Raj Pramukh’ on the Nizam and allowed him to go scot-free. Even Kasim Rizvi, the infamous commander of Nizam’s shock-troops, the Razakars, was imprisoned for a small period and allowed to migrate to Pakistan. He was also not tried for all the brutalities that were committed on the people of Telangana. On the other hand, Communists were subjected to bogus trials and sentenced to death. Many communist cadre were taken outside the jail and shot dead in forests and hillocks. The government was afraid of the growing influence of the communist movement throughout the country, Telangana region in particular.

People of Hyderabad State suffered from the atrocious rule of the Nizam and his feudal lords. Communists, through their work in the Andhra Mahasabha, united people against this feudal oppression. Agricultural labourers, poor peasants and various artisan communities joined hands under the Red flag, against the exploitative vetti system and demanded ‘land to the tiller’. Communists demanded ban on rack-renting, eviction of tenants and for confirmation of title deeds to the lands they were cultivating, drastic reduction of taxes and rents, abolition of jagirdari and full responsible government and rallied people behind these demands. People fought against the landlords, irrespective of their religion. The Nizam and his feudal administrators tried to rally Muslim masses to support them, as against the ‘Hindus’. But due to the efforts of the Communist Party, large numbers of Muslim peasantry, rural artisans and rural poor, rallied behind the fighting Telangana peasantry. It is due to the Telangana Armed Struggle and the Communist Party that Hindu-Muslim unity was secured in villages.

On the other hand, neither the Arya Samaj, Hindu Mahasabha nor the RSS, from which the BJP claims to inherit its legacy, played any role in the struggle against Nizam’s rule. What they did was to create religious animosity among people and break their unity, in Hyderabad State, which was until ‘a couple of decades back’, an ‘ideal place as far as relations between the various communities are concerned’. This was documented by the Sunderlal Committee that was appointed by the Indian government to enquire into the ‘massacre of Muslims’.

The entry of Arya Samajists initially and later by the Hindu Mahasabha destroyed this communal amity. To quote again from the Report: “Arya Samajists entered the state from outside….their poignant criticism of other faiths and specially of Islam roused indignation in highest quarters. Learned Maulvis from other parts of India followed in the wake of Arya Samajists. There were speeches and counter-speeches….Communal antagonism and distrust of each other prevailing in the rest of India could not leave Hyderabad unaffected….Thus the sweet relation that existed between the two communities in the state gradually vanished and Hyderabad became one of the hotbeds of communal tension”.

In those parts of Hyderabad State, where the Communist Party and the democratic movement was weak, these communal groups were able to spread hatred against Muslims and carry out widespread attacks. Sunderlal Committee points out that out of the 16 districts in the Hyderabad state, in four districts – Osmanabad, Bidar, Gulbarga and Nanded – Muslims bore the brunt of communal attacks.

A large number of Muslims were killed, women raped and property was looted by these Hindu communal forces throughout the state, but predominantly in these districts. “At a very reasonable and modest estimate we think that the total number of deaths in the state may well have been somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000. They could in no way have been less than 25,000”. The Committee also documents how the economic life of Muslims was systematically destroyed and notes that “the total property looted or destroyed in the state must be calculated in tens of crores”. The crimes committed against women by these communal fanatics knew no bounds. “We have it again on incontrovertible evidence that many women threw themselves into wells to save their honour….Many women were forcibly taken away from their homes, kept for a number of days and then sent back to their homes”.

The Committee also noted that forced conversions were carried out by the Arya Samajists and their other communal brethren. “We came across hundreds of Muslim women who had been forcibly tattooed on the forehead right in the orthodox Hindu style as a mark of their conversion. Some had their new Hindu names tattooed on their forearms. We saw children whose ears had been freshly bored in the Hindu style”.

These communal forces took the law into their own hands to carry out their communal programme. The report documented a prominent Arya Samajist, who converted the local Arya Samaj mandir into a sub-jail. He arrested Muslims from his own and adjoining villages, kept them for four or five days in his ‘sub-jail’ and released them after getting money. “When the Arya Samaj mandir proved insufficient for the purpose, another building in the vicinity was also availed of….At some places we were informed that the victims were removed to some adjoining temple and then finished off in the sacred precincts”.

The Congress party and the Indian government led by it, were more worried about how to contain the spreading communist influence than on protecting the country against the spreading communal virus. When the Indian government realised that the Telangana struggle was spreading to more and more areas, it decided to intervene. It sent its army on the plea of curbing razakar violence and securing Nizam’s accession to the Indian Union. But, its main declared purpose was also to suppress communists.

The Sunderlal Committee notes that certain elements in the Indian army were biased and supported the acts of Hindu communal elements. “At many places, they (Indian army) encouraged and even persuaded the Hindu mobs to loot Muslim shops and houses. At some paces, they even joined in the looting….Complaints of molestation of women and abduction of girls against the military and specially against Sikh soldiers were not rare”. This lenient attitude towards a particular community meant that “the policy of leaving the Hindus in possession of their arms was almost general”, which helped the communal forces to carry on their atrocities with little fear. As a result, ordinary Muslims who stood against the atrocities of the Nizam, were pounced upon and untold miseries were inflicted on them. Hindu people in those villages rescued such ordinary Muslims, gave shelter to them in their houses and rescued thousands of Muslim families. It is this popular unity and their struggle, under the leadership of the Communist Party that ensured the surrender of Nizam and Hyderabad became a part of India.

Communist Party in the struggle against Nizam, landlords and their armed stooges from the villages, lost nearly 2,000 fighters and leaders. They succeeded in putting an end to vetti, illegal exactions, land evictions, usurious loan, torture by corrupt officials and village oppressors; and fair wages for agricultural labourers were enforced and grain distributed. Tenants were given full rights on lands they were tilling. Village self-rule was established in 3,000 villages. Education, health and all other rural services were organised by the people’s committees. Ten lakh acres of land was distributed. The loans given by landlords, deshmukhs and moneylenders were canceled, benefiting hundreds of thousands of people. This is the reality.

Fighting the Nizam, or his feudal oppression was never on the Sangh Parivar’s agenda. The scars they left on body politic, still remain in Hyderabad and now in the name of various yatras they want to spread fiction as history and deepen communal scars. Their project should not be allowed to succeed.