Sardar Patel initiates Operation Polo

Calling Nizam a friend the Dy PM got him appointed as the Rajpramukh The ‘butcher’ Razakaars also had many Hindu landowners amongst them

Dr. Hari Desai Wednesday 04th September 2019 06:25 EDT

“So His Exhausted Highness is here.” Following Operation Polo and the Nizam of Hyderabad’s surrender, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, visited Hyderabad. The Nizam went to receive him at the airport. Patel’s dream of a unified India was complete after thirteen months on 17 September 1948 when defiant Nizam and the ‘butcher’ Razakars had to surrender after a brief 5-day Police Action carried out by the Indian army under direct instructions of the Sardar. It surprised many that after the operation was over, Patel called the Nizam a friend and got him appointed as the Rajpramukh or the Governor of the liberated Hyderabad State having 80 per cent Hindu population. Historian Rajmohan Gandhi nicely presents the picture of the last victory in “Patel : A Life” : “After his defeat the Nizam duly acceded to India, disowned the Razakars, withdrew the complaint to the UN, accepted a constitutional role, welcomed the representative rule and surrendered his vast holdings of land. He would have earned the goodwill of Hyderabad’s Hindus and gratitude of India’s Muslims, if he had made these gestures a few months earlier.”

Major General J. N. Chaudhari commanded the Operation Polo guided by Lt. General Rajendrasinhji. History records how the State’s last Prime Minister, Laik Ali, and Razakar chief Qasim Razvi had bolstered Patel’s resolve for military action. According to some accounts, India sent 36,000 troops. In his memoirs October Coup, author Mohammed Hyder, who was a bureaucrat in Hyderabad, recalls how he urged Razvi to take part in the negotiations for annexation. Razvi scoffed, “I only negotiate and haggle when buying fruits.” During the negotiation in August 1947 with the Indian government, the Nizam and Prime Minister Ali said Hyderabad would only give up defence and partial foreign policy autonomy to the Union. The State also preferred to remain “neutral” in the event of future India-Pakistan conflicts. After the Operation Polo, Razvi was jailed till 1957 and then left for Pakistan.

Patel famously described an independent Hyderabad as “an ulcer in the heart of India which needed to be removed surgically”. While initiating the opration H.M.Patel, the Defence Secretary, was kept in loop. Another Patel loyalist K.M. Munshi was posted as the Indian Agent General at the Nizam’s capital who played a major diplomatic role in the takeover of the largest Princely State. “And Hyderabad’s fate was sealed in September 1948”, sums up Daneesh Majid, a Hyderabad based writer in ‘when the troops were marching in’.

While there are accounts of killings by the Razakaars, particularly of Hindus, the Sunderlal Committee was formed in 1949 by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to look into alleged atrocities like rape, murder and looting of Muslims committed by the Indian Army after Operation Polo. The report, which saw the light of the day only in 2013, gives “a reasonable and modest” account of the total number of deaths somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 and other alleged atrocities in parts of the Princely State of Hyderabad along with names. Pandit Sunderlal was a Member of Parliament and a celebrated historian who wrote “Bharat mein Angreji Raj”.

Each year since Telangana’s formation in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been demanding that 17 September be declared ‘liberation day’. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has, however, remained mum on the issue. “The Razakaars also had many Hindu landowners amongst them. Vishnu Ram Chandra Reddy was one who was killed by the communists and B. Dharma Reddy was also another Razakaar. Muslims are simply blamed for what had happened, but the truth is that the militia was created to protect the feudal lords," told M. K. Moinuddin to media, who had joined the Communist Party of India in 1948 and took part in the Telangana armed struggle as well. One has to see the holistic picture of the historical events.

Next Column: Periyar-Anna’s Dravida Movement

(The writer is a Socio-political Historian. E-mail: [email protected] )


HEH the Nizam receiving the Deputy PM Sardar Patel at the Hyderabad airport after the Operation Polo

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