To mark 75 years of the merger of the princely state of Hyderabad with the Indian Union, the central and state governments will hoist national flags at separate events in Telangana on Saturday. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will unfurl the flag at 8.45 am at the Parade Ground in Secunderabad to celebrate ‘Hyderabad State Liberation Day’, while Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao will hoist the Tricolour at 10.30 am in Public Gardens in Hyderabad as part of ‘Telangana National Unity Day’ celebrations.
The history of union
When India became independent on August 15, 1947, it was still struggling to bring the 500-odd princely states dotting its territory into the union. Among the states that had not acceded to the union was Hyderabad, leading Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to famously note that an independent Hyderabad would constitute a “cancer in the belly of India”.
In the 1940s, a strong peasant movement, led by the communists, had started against the government of the Nizam. When discussions about accession to India started, the Nizam and the nobility were in favour of an independent Hyderabad, but the majority of the population, including peasant protesters, wanted to join the Union of India.
The Nizam used a paramilitary force called the Razakars to terrorise and suppress the peasantry, and to lead the armed resistance against joining the Union. The Razakars plundered villages and killed indiscriminately to crush the demand for merger with India, including 96 villagers in Bhairanapally on August 27, 1948.
On September 17, 1948, the Indian Army entered the princely state, which consisted of modern-day Telangana and some areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka, as part of Operation Polo. In less than a week, the Nizam and the Razakar squads surrendered.
The political context
With the Assembly polls in the state scheduled for next year, the BJP is seeking to turn the anniversary of the historic occasion into an opportunity to score political points against the TRS and its ally, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. It has attacked the ruling party for not observing the occasion in the eight years it has been in power, and has sought to link it to the TRS’s alleged “reluctance” to upset Owaisi.
The Razakars had links with an outfit called the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, or MIM. The Owaisi-led party says that this original Majlis ceased to exist after September 17, 1948. According to historian Mohammed Nooruddin Khan, the president of the MIM, Kasim Razvi, and other senior leaders of the outfit left for Pakistan after handing over the reins of their party to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, who was the grandfather of Asaduddin Owaisi. Abdul Wahed Owaisi had not been associated with the outfit before that, says Mohammed Nooruddin Khan.
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh has claimed that the TRS was forced to announce plans to observe ‘Telangana National Unity Day’ after the Centre said that it would commemorate the ‘Day of Liberation’.
While Maharashtra and Karnataka already commemorate this day as Marathwada Liberation Day and Hyderabad-Karnataka Liberation Day (some areas in the two states fell under the Hyderabad princely state) respectively, the Centre aims to celebrate the day across the three states.
“It is only after the Centre’s announcement that the state government decided to celebrate it. Not only the TRS, the Congress and the AIMIM have also been forced to acknowledge it. It is the BJP that has been demanding for many years that this event should be celebrated as Telangana liberation day,” state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar said earlier this month.