Except for Indians who are in their sixties or seventies today, only a few people may have heard the name of Quasim Rizvi or that of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Quasim Rizvi was virtual ruler of one of India's largest states – Hyderabad – equal to the size of France. Rizvi was the chief of a fanatically Muslim organization called the Ittahad-e-Mussalmeen claiming to lead an all-Muslim Armed Volunteer Force of about two lakhs called Razakars( Volunteers ) – marching in the streets of Hyderabad and other cities of the Kingdom threatening peace - loving Hindu citizens – who constituted over 85% of the population of the State.

On induction as a Razakar (volunteer), a Muslim was asked to take the following oath. Only Muslims could join it.

“In the name of Allah, I do hereby pledge myself to fight to the utmost to maintain the supremacy of Muslim power in the Deccan.”

The organization was built on hate and became a menace not only to the majority Hindus of the state but also for the good government and peace- loving Muslims.

Originally, the Nizam encouraged Ittahad-e-Mussalmeen to keep the Hindu subjects under check – but as partition became inevitable the Nizam, too, became its prisoner as he was helpless before its dictates. It became very powerful. It forced its own decisions on the Nizam i.e. who should be the President of the Executive Council of Hyderabad Government or who should be made the members of the Executive Council, etc. It had become a Frankenstein.

The ruling Nizam's full name was Mir Usman Ali Khan Bahadur – seventh in the line of succession since the establishment of the Kingdom. He was a diminutive old man who succeeded to the throne in 1911. He was very proud of the special title given to him by the British Emperor – 'His Exalted Highness'. Later, the King conferred on him another title in an autographed letter – 'The Faithful Ally of the British Government' – which was even more valuable to him.

Among his other distinctions - one was that he was considered to be the richest man in the world by the contemporary standards and the second, he was the most miserly. He seldom paid for what he took fancy while in the city markets. Major shops tried to close their doors if they came to know that the Nizam was passing by their shops or stores. His clothes were sometimes torn due to wear and tear.

Nizam had a standing Army of 20,000 - all Muslims permitted by the British Government which exercised paramountcy on the ruler through a British Resident in his Court. However, Nizam was able to add another 20,000 irregular Force on his pay roll on one pretext or the other. Moveover, his Police Force exceeded 25,000 and was practically all-Muslim. The civil services too were two-thirds Muslims. In the Legislative Assembly, which Nizam was forced to set up by the British in 1946, the number of Muslims members was ten more than that of non-Muslim members out of a total of 132. The majority in that state was at the mercy of the minority. However, the majority community was waking up to its rightful place in society. And, the Razakar Force was a way devised by Nizam to keep them under check..

Islam was the state religion and the Hindu subjects of the Nizam had to pay higher taxes.

Geographically, the Hyderabad state was surrounded by the British administered Central Province (C.P.) in the north, Bombay in the west and Madras in the east and south. In population, revenue and importance, it was the premier state of India. The population was sixteen million, area 82,000 square miles and the revenue exceeded rupees 126 crore. Hyderabad had been given the right to issue its own currency and postal stamps. Only Jammu and Kashmir State and a few other large states had similar rights.

Despite its position as a major state, Hyderabad was treated by the British no differently from other large states of India. The right of intervention in the internal affairs of the state was repeatedly asserted by the British Government. Soon after his accession to the throne in 1911, the Nizam was warned by the then Viceroy Lord Irwin that he was 'on trial' for two years and at the end of which a Court of Regency could be set up replacing him.

The reason why the British Government intervened was more amusing. With a eight century mindset, Nizam objected to his 'installation' on the throne by the British Resident in 1911 unacceptable. He claimed that he had come to the throne by divine right!! The British threatened to replace him if he persisted. He was installed on the throne by the British resident only.

Fifteen years later, he disputed the right of The Paramount Power to interfere in the internal administration of his state. Lord Reading, the then Viceroy, rebuked him : “The sovereignty of the British Crown is supreme ... no ruler of Indian states can claim to negotiate with the British Government on equal footing.” He said. The Nizam was silenced.

Nevertheless, the Nizam's obsession was to make himself an independent ruler and the lapse of paramountcy on August 15, 1947 – gave him the opportunity.

The Nizam – who traced his ancestry to Abu Bakar – the first Khalifa – was a complex personality. Apart from the idea of establishing himself as an independent king in his kingdom where Islamic hegemony would prevail, his other obsession was money - amassing wealth, more wealth irrespective of the means used. He was a known miser who lived a spartan life often wearing old torn clothes. His Privy Purse alone from state revenues was Rs. 50 lakhs. In addition, 800 square miles of prime lands had been earmarked in the kingdom as his personal property. These lands yielded him a revenue of two and a half crore rupees a year. His passion for money was so great that he lost no opportunity in receiving presents from all and sundry on every conceivable occasion. His hoards of jewels, gold, silver, currency became a legend all over the world.

Nizam trusted no one and had a very effective espionage system – spying even on his own sons.

Democracy to him was new-fangled idea breeding nothing but trouble and factions and should be kept under check – especially for his Hindu subjects. However, under pressure from the Political Department of the Government of India, he was forced to appoint an Executive Council to advise him – but manoeuvred it in a way that his will always prevailed. Most members were Muslims or his own nominees.

My interest in Hyderabad and Nizam started during my student days in early forties – because Arya Samaj which was very strong in pre-partition Punjab was carrying on an agitation in the Hyderabad State. And, I was a student in an Arya Samaj institution.

The events which preceded the accession of the state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union and the Police Action or the Operation Polo as the Army called it that followed was the reason for my visit to Hayderabad – a few days before the Police Action on October 13, 1948. The news of the impending Police action by the Army leaked and I was sent by my newspaper to report. I reached Hyderabad a couple of days before the Army marched in. Sensing that a punitive action may be in the offing, I was asked to go in advance. Later, I was witness to the surrender of Nizam to General Choudhari who led the Indian Forces in Hyderabad.

What did I see there? Total anarchy – there was no rule of law. The uniformed Razakars, the so-called volunteer force of Ittahad-e-Mussalmeen was on every street corner of Hyderabad – doing the so called police duties – extorting money from shopkeepers, punishing the common citizens for one reason or the other. Neither the Nizam's Army nor the police was anywhere – they were scared of the Razakars. In fact, I was told that the Commander-in-Chief of the Nizam's Army General El Edroos objected to Razakars activities.

During the British Raj, they had a Political Department to deal with the affairs of the Indian States. The Department of states had a British Resident stationed in the capital of each state - British Officers only – to oversee the working of the States. They interfered or advised only in the matter of misrule. Otherwise, the British allowed them to indulge in their lazy and crazy pastimes. Too many luxuries and undisciplined living had made them look like fools. For their holidays to Europe, if a particular Maharaja took vases of Ganga water in a chartered ship so that he does not have to drink local water which 'polluted' him, someone else would reserve an entire 200-room hotel in a European city for his 'harem' of wives, servants and maid servants and ADCs at state cost. Such practices were common among the rulers of most Indian states.

As the British decided to quit India in 1947, they advised all Indian Princes that they should accede to one or the other Dominions – India or Pakistan and make that decision fast before August 15, the target date for freedom of India and Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten on arrival in India, made it clear to all Princes in no uncertain terms that it was in their own interest to join one or the other Dominion taking into account geographical continuity and the will of the people of their respective states. On the expiry of British paramountcy, he clarified that the British Government will not accept any of them as a Dominion – if they decided not to become part of India or Pakistan.

Despite clear indication, Nizam and his advisers had dreams of total independence. He wanted not to accede to India as it will amount to merger and subordination to Indian Goverment but, he wanted to have only treaty relations with India as an equal partner with right to post his own political representatives abroad. It was made clear to Nizam that if they posted their representatives – political or trade – overseas, they will have to work under the guidance of Indian ambassadors in these countries – a situation not acceptable to the Nizam. He even made a beginning by appointing his special representative in Karachi in Pakistan.

The Nizam made it clear that he would not accede but only seek an alliance with India in respect of defence, external affairs and communications in such a way that Hyderabad will lose no control over them. Sardar Patel offered an alternative, let the Nizam hold a referendum or plebiscite over the issue of accession and the decision of the people will be acceptable to India. Nizam would not agree to that either as he knew what the people's verdict . Nizam insisted that Muslims get 50% representation in the Legislature. It was not agreed to by the Indian Union.

During the British rule, all matters pertaining to the Indian states were dealt with by the political department which had its British Residents in all the State capitals. With the lapse of paramountcy, Sardar Patel decided to deal with the affairs of the states in a newly formed Department called Ministry of States. The charge of the Ministry was taken over by Sardar Patel himself in addition to what he was already doing – holding the Home portfolio as well as Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

In the Department of states, he brought Mr V. P. Menon, as Secretary, who was till then the Constitutional Adviser to the Governor General India – Lord Wavell and later to Lord Mountbatten. Sardar Patel first met V. P. Menon in 1946 and was impressed by his brilliance and administrative skills . V. P. Menon had been working in the political Department for 40 years rising from a clerk to the post of Constitutional Adviser to Governor General and had a great insight into the psyche of the Princes. Since Menon was about to retire, the Governor General Lord Mountbatten toyed with the idea of appointing V. P. Menon as the Governor of one of the Indian Provinces on his retirement. The Sardar offered Menon the the post of Secretary in the States Ministry which Menon willingly accepted.

It was a good meeting of two great minds. Sardar Patel as Minister dominated the scene and made quick decisions while Menon implemented them diligently. Sardar left the day-to-day working of the Ministry to Menon including discussion with the Princes.

The Department was set up on July 5, 1947 – and the 554 states of India had to be brought within the orbit of the Indian Union by negotiations, bargaining, cajoling - through arguments as well as incentives. The target date was August 15, 1947 – the Independence Day of India. A great challenge indeed – only 40 days to go to meet the target.

While announcing to the people the creation of the new Department of States, Sardar Patel issued an appeal stressing the fundamental homogeneity of Indian thought and culture. He invited the co-operation of the Indian Princes – appealed to them as friends to come and join the new Constituent Assembly and help framing the the Constitution of the united India. “By common endeavour we can raise the country to new greatness...”, he asserted.

Although Lord Mountbatten played an important role in persuading the recalcitrant Princes in making them sign the Instrument of accession as drafted by the States Ministry and Sardar Patel profusely thanked him for his contributions – the Political Department with its Secretary Sir Conrad Cornfield was playing a dubious role. Most of the British Officers in the Political Department mischievously encouraged some rulers with ideas that they could legally declare independence or even join Pakistan.

Among them were Nawab of Bhopal, Maharaja of Indore, Hyderabad and Kashmir as well as Travancore and Cochin. Nawab of Junagarh on the Kathiawad coast fell into their trap and joined Pakistan under the guidance of Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutta, his Dewan and the father of late Prime Minister Zulfaqar Ali Bhutto who was later hanged by a Military dictator of Pakistan.

Some of the Indian Princes were encouraged by Mohamamd Ali Jinnah to be autonomous or join Pakistan Dominion instead of India. When Maharaja of Bikaner – who had geographical contiguity with Pakistan met Jinnah along with Rajkumar of Jaisalmer, the Pakistan's Governor-General gave him a blank paper signed by him asking him to fill in whatever conditions he had in mind. However, it ended up in smoke when the question of Hindu and Muslim subjects of the state was raised. Jinnah accepted the accession of Junagarh to Pakistan fully knowing that Junagarh had no geographical contiguity with Pakistan. Sardar Patel on the other hand encouraged no state falling within the Pakistan area to break free of Pakistan. When Nawab of Bahawalpur with some geographical contiguity with India and the Nawab of Kalat in NWFP approached Sardar Patel, he advised them to accede to Pakistan as India would not like to take them on for obvious reasons.

In due course, Sardar Patel and V. P. Menon were able to integrate all the states of India within the Indian Union by August 15 – except Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad. While Maharaja of Kashmir signed the instrument of accession on October 4, 1947 – Nizam did a year later with some show of strength on the part of India.

Let me describe how Hyderabad fell in line – and integrated within the Indian Union as seen and reported by me – during those tumultuous days.

Nizam of Hyderabad was an ambitious ruler who believed that he had a divine right to rule Hyderabad as a Muslim state under Muslim law. He ignored to his peril the fact that 85% of his subjects were Hindus.

As we mentioned earlier, Lord Mountbatten as Governor-General handled negotiations with Hyderabad through Nizam's constitutional Adviser Sir Walter Moncton, who was one of his personal friends.

Without going into the details of earlier negotiations, we start with July 11, 1947 – when the Nizam sent a delegation to Delhi to meet Lord Mountbatten. The delegation was headed by Nawab of Chattari, the President of the Executive Council of Nizam and three other members including Sir Walter Moncton – the constitutional adviser. Government of India was represented by Sir Conrad Cornfield of the Political Department and V. P. Menon the Secretary from the Ministry of States.

The issues were : the retrocession of Berar (a territory added to British India by the Nizam long ago) to the Nizam; the grant of Dominion status to Hyderabad and the accession of the Hyderabad to the Indian Union.

With regard to the return of Berar to Nizam, Lord Mountbatten stated the Indian Independence Bill had recognized the sovereignty of Nizam over Berar, but Berar now was firmly a part of the Central Provinces and that nothing short of war or voluntary reunion, could bring Berar back to Nizam. He told the visiting delegation that if a referendum were held in Berar, the people would vote overwhelmingly for the existing arrangement to continue. He was, therefore, not inclined to disturb the status quo, he told them firmly.

On the question of Dominion Status to Hyderabad, Lord Mountbatten made it clear that the British Government would not agree to such an arrangement wit any of the Indian States.

The discussion moved to the accession of Hyderabad to the Indian Union. Lord Mountbatten and V. P. Menon impressed on the delegation that it will be in their mutual interest. But, the visiting delegation opined that it will be difficult for Nizam to accept this course as it would compromise his sovereignty.

The delegation threatened that, if pressed, the Nizam may join Pakistan.

Lord Mountbatten agreed that legally Hyderabad could take that option – but pointed out that the present chance was the last opportunity to do so, and if Hyderabad missed it, he foresaw disastrous results for the state.

The meeting ended achieving no results.

Lord Mountbatten realised that it will be difficult to persuade Nizam to accede by August 15, 1947 – and suggested to the Government of India that an extension of two months may be granted to Hyderabad. The Cabinet agreed to the extension and Lord Mountbatten was requested to continue the negotiations with Hyderabad.

A few days later, Nawab of Chattari wrote to Lord Mountbatten for resumption of negotiations.

Sardar Patel saw no alternative but to insist on Nizam's accession to Indian Dominion.

Sardar firmly told Lord Mountbatten in the event of Nizam not signing the Instrument of Accession, Nizam must agree to submit the issue to the judgement of people – and that Government of India will accept whatever is the verdict .

Accordingly, Lord Mountbatten wrote to Nizam on August 27, 1947 – making an offer to hold a referendum under the supervision of the British officers.

The Nizam refused the offer.

On September 8, Nawab of Chattari accompanied by Sir Walter Moncton came to Delhi again to informally meet Lord Mountbatten – and was advised by the Governor General to take advantage of signing the Instrument of Accession.

The delegation returned to Hyderabad. In a note to Lord Mountbatten the Nizam expressed his fear that accession to India will lead to disturbances and bloodshed in Hyderabad.

Another delegation followed. One of the Nizam's Advisers – Nawab Ali Zafar Jung made a threatening statement that Muslims who constituted the majority population ln Hyderabad city would not tolerate accession ... and trouble would spread to all parts of the state ... he warned.

Although more delegation came to Delhi and went back, there was no agreement in sight.

Meantime, situation was worsening in Hyderabad. Razakar leaders, especially their Chief Quasim Rizvi was more provocative and made threatening speeches – creating a fear psychosis in the rest of India.

A few examples of his gems :-

On March 31, 1948 ...

“Hyderabad is an Islamic State ... when ever the Indian Union makes an aggression on us, the four and half crores of Muslims of India will raise the banner of revolt...”

Again ...

“A Muslim is a warrior. He is first -class fighting man. If India is free today, remember it was due to the sword and arms of Muslims ... Never put back your sword into the sheath till your aim is achieved. Stop not till you reach your goal. (Cries of Delhi Challo)”

“We believe in God. We have no other friends except Allah who has created this Islamic State and who shall never let us down.”

“Koran in one hand and the sword in the other, let us march forward, cut our enemies to pieces and establish an Islamic supremacy...”

“A Hindu is a Kafir who worships stones and monkeys (laughter), who drinks cow's urine and eats cow-dung (renewed laughter) and who is a barbarian and wants to rule us! What an ambition and what a day dream!... The only answer to them is a naked sword!”

Another sample of Rizvi's speech on April 3,

“Hyderabad will retrieve the ceded districts and the day is not far off when the waters of Bay of Bengal will be washing the feet of our sovereign, who will not be called merely the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar but also of Northern Sircars.”

Addressing the Hindus of Hyderabad, Rizvi warned,

“I have sympathy with you. If I had wished, I could have exterminated you.”

Other similar provocations and events in the state were making the situation worse.

An Australian adventurer Sydney Cotton was smuggling arms into Hyderabad from Karachi in the darkness of the night. These arms were reaching the Razakars as well as the Communists. The Communists had made a common cause with the Razakars to create a chaotic situation in Hyderabad.

In order to create fear in the neighbouring provinces of India like Central Provinces and Bombay Presidency, the neighbouring villages in Indian territory were raided and looted. Both the Provincial Governments demanded the posting of the Armed Forces as it was not possible for the local Police to handle the situation.

As a journalist, I recall, the great apprehensions in the rest of India about the intentions of Hyderabad which was often described as an Island of Pakistan in the heart of India. The press and the people demanded urgent action and firm handling of Nizam and his Razakars.

On August 17, 1948, Hyderabad appealed to the United Nations to come to its assistance. It accused India of violation of Standull Agreement and urged that it constituted an attack on the sovereignty of Nizam.

At the same time another melodrama was enacted in Hyderabad by Ittabad-ul-Mussalmeen on October 27. A Hyderabadi delegation consisting of Sir Walter Moncton, the Nawab of Chattari and Sir Sultan Ahmed was supposed to leave for Delhi with a draft Stand-still agreement approved by Nizam the same day. At about three PM, a crowd of some thirty thousand people surrounded their homes in the city to stop them from leaving for Delhi.

The crowd considered the agreement as surrender.

With great difficulty, the Nawab of Chattari managed to contact the Army for help and the Army evacuated them for safety including Lady Moncton.

Lord Mountbatten was informed by telegram that 'owing to unforeseen circumstances ... the delegation could not make it ... and that they would now meet him in October 30 or 31.” It seems that Nizam had a change of heart and mind overnight He met the delegation again and, without telling them, he suddenly called Rizvi to the meeting of the executive Committee.

Rizvi made yet another speech in the meeting – that the new agreement being taken to Delhi will lead to the extinction of Hyderabad State and pleaded for a chance to reopen negotiations with the Government of India by a new delegation. He asserted that he would make Government of India accept the original agreement which they had rejected.

Pressed for the reasons why Government of India would agree, he told them that Government of India's hands were full with Kashmir. He had known of the tribal invasion of the Kashmir Valley even before it happened and that Government of India had flown its troops to Kashmir on October 27, 1947. India, he felt, could not take on Hyderabad along with Kashmir.

Quasim Rizvi had his way.

While other members of the delegation stayed home, only one member, Sir Sultan Ahmed came to Delhi to personally deliver Nizam's letter which was more a threat. The letter warned - “If the negotiations broke down, the Nizam would immediately negotiate an agreement with Pakistan.”

Sir Sultan Ahmed told Mountbatten that Nizam had sent a person to Karachi – and attributed Nizam's volta-face due to some message he had received.

Nizam – now selected a new delegation to negotiate with Delhi – members were virtually hand-picked by Rizvi. The new leader Moin Nawaz Jung supported the doctrine of independence for Hyderabad state.

Sardar Patel was annoyed by the new development and his immediate reaction was to send them back.

The delegation returned empty-handed. The Nawab of Chattari also resigned as the President of the Executive Council, under pressure from Ittahad-ul-Mussalmeen. Nizam then appointed Laik Ali as the new President of the Executive Council in place of the Nawab of Chattari. Liak Ali who was once a prominant businessman of Hyderabad had moved to Karachi and was representing Pakistan in the United Nation on Kashmir issue.

It was at this time that Quasim Rizvi visited New Delhi – had an interview with Sardar Patel and met V. P. Menon too.

He asked Sardar :-

'Why do you not let Hyderabad remain independent?'

'I have gone beyond all possible limits. I have conceded to Hyderabad what I did not concede to any other state.' Sardar replied.

'But I want you to understand the difficulty of Hyderabad.'

'I do not see any difficulty, unless you have come to some understanding with Pakistan.' Sardar replied.

'If you do not see our difficulties, we will not yield.' cried Rizvi working himself up to a state of frenzy. We shall fight and die to the last man for Hyderabad.'

'How can I stop you from committing suicide, if you want to?' Sardar replied.

Sardar added, 'I would advise you to see the sun before it is too dark. Do not plunge into darkness while the light is still visible.'

In spite of these heroics, a stand-still agreement was signed. Nizam and his advisers wanted more time. And, Government of India as well as Lord Mountbatten felt the Standstill agreement will provide a basis for a satisfactory long- term solution. Nizam also wrote a secret letter to Lord Mountbatten giving an understanding that he will not accede to Pakistan.

Government of India wanted to secure Nizam's final accession within one year period of the Agreement and in the event of failure – an effective action.

As part of the agreement, Sardar Patel appointed his long term friend Mr K. M. Munshi, a brilliant lawyer and the former Home Minister of Bombay Presidency as the first Indian Agent General – to replace the former British Resident in the State. K. M. Munshi accepted the new assignment in an honorary capacity. Nizam's people tried to create controversy over his living in the Residency building in Hyderabad – a palace where the British Resident used to stay – and his role etc.

They did not want Munshi to stay in the former Residency! They wanted to prove that the new Agent General was no more than an ambassador of one country to the other.

Immediately after the signing of Agreement, the Nizam broke it by issuing two ordinances without consulting the Union of India. One of these banned the export of precious metals from Hyderabad and the other declared that Indian currency was no longer legal tender in Hyderabad. The Hyderabad Government also advanced on its own Rs. 20 crore loan to the new Pakistan Government .

India protested against this as a violation of the spirit of the Agreement. There were clashes on the border with Razakars.

Simultaneously, news came that Hyderabad was expanding and strengthening new airports. An Australian adventurer Sydney Cotton was hired to smuggle arms from Karachi to Hyderabad. There were rumours that Hyderabad had enough bombers to bomb major cities of India like Delhi, Bombay or Ahmedabad to destroy them in the case of war.

On the issues of implementation of Standstill Agreement. K. M. Munshi doubted the intentions of Hyderabad. As he put it, “As I went through clause by clause, I discovered to my surprise, that no agreement could be such a disagreement, for no clause was understood by both the parties to mean the same thing.”

On March 26, V. P. Menon sent a letter to Hyderabad, with the approval of Sardar Patel and Pandit Nehru, recounting in details the breaches of the Standstill Agreement by the Hyderabad Government.

This upset the Hyderabad Government so much that their new Prime Minister Laik Ali angrily said : “The Nizam was willing to die a martyr and that he and two lakh Muslims were willing to be killed.”

Nizam also wrote to Lord Mountbatten that this letter may be taken as an ultimatum to be regarded as prelude to complete break of friendly relations.

As the situation was going out of hands, Sir Walter Moncton came to meet Lord Mountbatten with new set of proposals. He was specially called from London. Though Sardar Patel was not in favour of restarting the negotiations, Lord Mountbatten pleaded with Patel on behalf of his friend.

In the new proposals, Hyderabad was given several far-reaching concessions which even Mountbatten apprehended Sardar would not agree. But, Mountbatten went personally to Sardar Patel in Dehradun to plead for acceptance of the draft in the interest of peace. Sardar Patel signed it – as a favour to Lord Mountbatten. But, he warned – “they will again say no!”

Sir Walter Moncton was jubilant and returned to Hyderabad to get Nizam's signature. He was sure Nizam would approve.

However, under pressure from his advisers, the Nizam wriggled out of the agreement.

Disgusted, Sir Walter Moncton, wired to Lord Mountbatten one word - “LOST” and left for England.

On June 21, l948, Lord Mountbatten too left India. Before leaving India, he told K. M. Munshi, “Munshi, I had many jolts in my life. But never have I received such a shock as was given to me by those people of Hyderabad.”

C. Rajgopalachari succeeded Lord Mountbatten. It can be said without doubt that in Lord Mountbatten, the Nizam had his best friend and well-wisher. Now, the the conflict with the Government of India looked inevitable.

After taking over as Governor General of India, Rajgopalachari wrote to Nizam to ban the Razakar movement, let the Indian forces be stationed in Hyderabad to improve security and law and order.

On September10, Laik Ali wrote to Nehru that Razakar movement had sprung up entirely as a result of raids on Hyderabad territory.

Government of India was now confronted with a serious crisis due to the acts of Razakars and their ally Communists. The Indian Government were assessing the military options . The military commanders agreed that Hyderabad resistance could be overcome within a week or maximum three weeks. The focus was on keeping the conflict short and swift – avoiding bloodshed.

A day earlier, on September 9, it was decided to send Indian troops into Hyderabad to restore peace. The police action code-named Operation Polo was fixed for the early hours of Monday, September 13, 1948 under the direction of Commanding Officer of Southern Command Lt. General Maharaj Rajendrasurghji. The Indian Forces were commanded by Major General J. N. Choudhri.

It was a two-pronged attack along the Sholapur-Hyderabad road – a distance of only 186 miles. Another diversion along the Bezwada – Hyderabad road – a distance of 160 miles.

There was resistance on the first and second day – leading to more than 800 casualties among the Hyderabad Army and the Razakars. Mobilized in haste, the Hyderabad Army had no will to fight. The Razakar soldiers ran away when the first shots were fired by Indian soldiers. They shed their beards and disappeared among the common folks of Hyderabad.

On September 13, itself, Army captured Lt. T. T. Moora, an ex-British commando – he was rushing to Naldurg in a jeep loaded with explosives to blow up the bridges. He was under the impression that the Indian Army will advance only on September 15. Had he succeeded in blowing up the bridges, Indian Army advance could have taken time.

The Police Action lasted only 108 hours. Hyderabad was in the hands of the Indian Forces on the September l7, 1948.

The people came out on the streets to welcome the Indian Army which liberated them from the anarchic rule of Razakars and their supporters. The Commander of Indian Forces Brigadier Verma went about the city unarmed asking people to remain calm.

I had joined the crowd after reaching Hyderabad 2 days earlier. I was very happy to see the speed with which Indian Army moved in Hydrabad with almost no loss.

The Nizam's main anxiety was the safety of his hoarded wealth. When that was assured, he issued a Firman (Royal Order) investing the Indian Army Commander General Choudhry with full executive and legislative powers. Major General Choudhri took charge as Military Governor of Hyderabad State on September 18. Rizvi was arrested the next day.

Next week, Nizam sent a cable to the Security Council withdrawing the Hyderabad case.

And, I returned to Delhi .

Sardar Patel decided to deal generously with the Nizam – his Privy Purse of Rs. 50 lakhs per annum was continued – his hoarded wealth as well as private palaces were spared along with his staff. His dynasty continued.

General Choudhary ruled Hyderabad with a few civilian advisers till Dec 1949.

Rest is history.

Today, we can take the integration of Indian states as a fact of history. But, immediately after partition, it appeared that India will be a fragmented country – with Pakistan as a separate state and a dozen more states of India having dreams of independence and autonomy.

When the states were taken over, the new Indian government inherited cash balances and investments of 77 crore rupees.

The Rulers surrendered over 500 villages and thousands of acres of personal land – along with their palaces, museums and buildings.

In the case of Nizam, his personal estate with a net revenues of 1.24 crore was surrendered in return for a compensation of Rupees 25 lakh per annum.

Government of India acquired about 12,000 miles of railways without payment of compensation.

Sardar Patel – the Iron Man's contribution to India can never be forgotten.

On partition, India lost 3.6 lakh square miles with a population of 81.5 million to Pakistan.

On integration of the Indian states, Sardar Patel brought back 5 lakh square miles of territory with a population of 86.5 million.

Artificial barriers were demolished and a modern united India emerged.