Why September 17 should be celebrated as Hyderabad State Liberation Day

“The Nizam's Government lifted the 5-year-old ban on the Communists & efforts are being made for an Ittehad-Communist alliance to make common cause against India.” 

By Sanjeev Nayyar

This FAQ tells why Sept 17 should be celebrated as Hyderabad Liberation Day, the role of Arya Samaj in the liberation of Hyderabad & why were Hindus unhappy under Nizam Rule? Lastly, what happened in 1947 includes the Accession of State, objectives of MIM, the role of Razakars and Operation Polo.

The Central government declared September 17 would be celebrated as Hyderabad State Liberation Day. TRS declared it as ‘Telangana National Unity Day’. MIM leader Owasi said the day should be celebrated as National Integration Day, “The struggles of the people of the erstwhile Hyderabad state against colonialism, feudalism and autocracy are a symbol of national integration rather than merely a case of “liberation” of a piece of land.” What should it be?

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While virtually all areas (about 560 the Princely States and British India) became part of India on August 15, 1947, the people of Hyderabad State got freedom, from Nizam rule, only in September 1948.

At Independence, Madras Presidency included Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra. “In 1952, Dr Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was elected chief minister of the Hyderabad State in its first democratic election.” Freedom fighter Potti Sreeramulu’s 56-day hunger strike and death to draw attention to the demand for a state of Telegu-speaking regions of Madras resulted in the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1953. The newly formed Andhra Pradesh was merged with the Telegu-speaking areas of Hyderabad State in 1956. The current Telangana state was formed on June 2, 2014.

Hyderabad State Liberation Day; Image Source: www.wirally.com
Hyderabad State Liberation Day; Image Source: www.wirally.com
Map of Hyderabad State shows parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Note that the Hyderabad State ruled by Nizams (Asif Jahi Dynasty, 1724 to 1948) covered three linguistic areas in modern-day Telangana, Maharashtra (Marathwada) and Karnataka. Marathwada areas include districts of Aurangabad, Beed, Hingoli, Jalna, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad and Parbhani and districts of Kalaburagi, Bellary, Raichur, Yadgir, Koppal, Vijayanagara and Bidar in today’s Karnataka.

Q1 Why does Marathwada celebrate September 17 as Marathwada Liberation Day or Marathwada Mukti Sangram Din?

A1. Since the Nizam rule came to an end on September 17, it is celebrated as Liberation Day. The Mukti Sangram Din is a tribute to those who fought against Nizam rule under the leadership of Swami Ramanand TirthGovindbhai Shroff, Vajayantra Kabra, P H Patwardhan and others. Source

Q2. Can September 17 be National Integration Day as stated by Owasi?

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A2. India was liberated from British rule on August 15, 1947. The process of integration of British India and the Princely States started then. For certain reasons, the integration of Hyderabad State etc. happened later. People fought for freedom from Nizam’s rule. The Razakars wanted Muslim rule (under Nizam) to continue e.g. “On August 27, 1948, Razakars killed 96 villagers in Bhairanapally to quell their demand for merger with India.” Source

According to a White Paper on Hyderabad published by the Government of India, “A special feature of the history of Hyderabad has been that not only did it never enjoy independence but it also never established a legitimate claim to it by making any sacrifices in the cause of independence.” Also, “the Nizam’s Government lifted the 5-year-old ban on the Communists & efforts are being made for an Ittehad-Communist alliance to make common cause against India.” 7

Q3. What is the role of the Arya Samaj in the liberation from Nizam rule?

A3. Sri Ram Sharma wrote in A History of the Arya Samaj, “The Arya Samaj launched a successful Satyagraha against the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1939 and delivered such a shattering blow to his prestige that he was never able to recover his former status, at least in the eyes of his subjects.” Pg. 203

Hyderabad State Liberation Day; Image Source: www.wirally.com
Hyderabad State Liberation Day; Image Source: www.wirally.com

Here is a quote from the DAV College Solapur site, “Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) College Trust and Management Society, New Delhi established Damani Bhairuratan Fatehchand Dayanand College of Arts and Science, Solapur on 17th June 1940 in memory of the victory of Satyagraha launched by Arya Samaj against the Nizam of Hyderabad as a part of `Marathwada Mukti Sangram’.”

Smt H Geeta (and others), Associate Prof in B.J.R. Government Degree College, Hyderabad wrote in Role of Arya Samaj in the Liberation of Hyderabad State, “During the reign of VII Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan the last ruler, political awakening and Public Opinion began among the people, this took place mainly because of the activities of Arya Samaj. Several restrictions were imposed on the activities of Arya Samaj like holding Nagar Kirtans, hoisting Om flags and so on.

When Nizam Government offered education only in Urdu Medium attempts were made to start the ‘Raastriya’ School. Under the presidentship of Pandit Rao Koratkar in 1932 branches of Arya Samaj were established throughout the state and education spread through libraries and schools in Marathwada. The students of Intermediate College Aurangabad, under the guidance of G.M. Shroff, started The Vande Mataram Movement in 1938 and Shroff resigned as a teacher and helped organise it.” 3

Q4. Why were Hindus protesting against Nizam rule?

A4. Here are some reasons.

1. Dr Satish K Kapoor, Local Secretary of Dayananda institutions, Solapur (2008 to 2012) and former British Council Scholar says that Arya Samajis were not allowed to perform havan in their homes.

2. Dr Gautam Pingle, Dean of Studies & Head, Centre for Telangana Studies, MCR-HRD Institute of Telangana wrote about the land tax in The Formation and History of Telangana: A Collection of Nine Critical Essays, “The Hindu canonical land tax was fixed by Bhishma in his instruction to Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata to take “a sixth part, upon fair calculation, of the yield of the soil as his tribute.” (Ganguli 2003 Volume VIII: 156).This was the famous shadbaga and applied over time. Even Akbar’s minister Abul Fazl attested to the continuity of the one-sixth rate: “Throughout the whole extent of Hindustan where at all times so many enlightened monarchs have reigned, one-sixth of the produce was exacted.” (Abul Fazl Allami, 1891:55). The Mohammedan Kings, however, following Islamic law made a distinction between believers and non-believers. The Islamic canonical land tax as per sharia was fixed at 50% for non-Muslims and 10% for Muslims.” The British reduced the level of tax to a rational number.

3. “Muslims constituted less than 15% of the population but held 75% of positions in the bureaucracy.” Also referred to in 7

4. Faisal CK wrote in The Wire, “The Vande Mataram movement was the most significant movement in the history of Hyderabad’s freedom struggle. The Nizam’s government forbade the singing of ‘Vande Matram’ all over the state, including in educational institutions and hostels. It became a symbol of nationalist agitation. The MIM supported the Nizam’s adamant action against this movement.” 6

5. Excerpts from White Paper, “Hyderabad of today, on the other hand, is not only a stronghold of mediaeval feudalism but also a plague spot of militant fascism and communal fanaticism. The political structure of Hyderabad is the very antithesis “of democracy; the Razakar ideology, which dominates Hyderabad”, is automatically and irrevocably against popular freedom and democratic concepts.” 7

Q5. Since Hyderabad was a Muslim-ruled state should it have become part of Pakistan?

A5. Lt Gen N S Malik wrote in the Indian Defence Review, “Similarly the so-called “Two Nation Theory”, under whose umbrella Pakistan was formed, applied only to British ruled India and not the princely states, and hence a state being Muslim majority did not disqualify it from joining Indian Union. (Note that Kapurthala in Punjab was a Muslim Majority State)”. 5

Mahakali Temple at Golconda Fort

Q6. What happened in 1947?

A6. Prior to partition in 1947, British rule over India comprised two separate geographical regions. One comprised of various provinces administered by the Viceroy of India (referred to as British India). The other comprised provinces ruled by Maharajas, Princes, Nawabs etc. There were 562 Princely states of which 327 were petty states.

On 20/2/1947, His Majesty’s Government announced that British India would become independent. Facing the state’s rulers on 11/7/1947 Mountbatten said, ‘The Indian Independence Act releases the States on 15th August from all their obligations to the Crown. The States have complete freedom-technically and legally they are independent. At a meeting held on 25/7/1947, Mountbatten advised the princes that they should accede to one of the two dominions, keeping in mind the ‘geographical contiguity of their States’.

Kashmir and Hyderabad were two big states that had not signed the Instrument of Accession (IOA) by 15/8/1947. Kashmir was signed by IOA on 26/10/1947.

In Hyderabad, State Muslims controlled the army and public service. The British had refused to consider Nizam’s plea for Dominion status. Patel had given the Nizam three months, after August 15, to decide. No accession, no Standstill Agreement was India’s policy. The agreement was signed on November 29, 1947. Amongst others, it provided for posting an Agent-General in each other’s headquarters. India appointed K M Munshi. Assured that Nizam would not join Pakistan and aware that Nizam was lending his ear to extremist Muslims, Patel decided to wait. He also knew that Mountbatten would return in the summer of 1948. Patel A Life by Rajmohan Gandhi

The Nizam was under the influence of a young man Kasim Razvi who headed Ittehad-ul-Musilmeen, a body dedicated to maintaining Muslim supremacy in the State. The Razakars formed the Ittehad’s militant wing. Faisal wrote, “Formed in 1926, the MIM had a 4-fold objective: maintain Hyderabad as an independent Islamic monarchy under the Asaf Jahi dynasty, perpetuate Muslim dominance in the bureaucracy, keep Urdu as the official language and prevent the formation of a popular, responsible government.” 6

Razvi visited Delhi himself in November and told Sardar Patel, “We shall fight and die to the last man.” V P Menon noticed his fanaticism bordering on frenzy. 1 Pg. 476 Faisal wrote, “After Operation Polo, the MIM was banned in 1948. Qasim Razvi was jailed from 1948 to 1957 and was released on the condition that he would go to Pakistan where he was granted asylum. Before leaving, Razvi handed over the responsibility of the Ittehadul Muslimeen, to Abdul Wahid Owaisi,” grandfather of the current Owasi leader.

Patel told Nizam representative Laik Ali that India would restrain itself if Hindus were given a say in the government. Democracy was unacceptable to Nizam and those guiding him. “They arranged a secret loan of Rs 20 crore to Pakistan, whose support was essential if the Nizam were to stand up to India. The Razakars were financed and armed”. 1 Pg. 476

Hyderabad State Liberation Day; Image Source: www.wirally.com
Hyderabad State Liberation Day; Image Source: www.wirally.com

The Nizam complained in April 1948 to the British of an economic blockade (Patel had a heart attack around this time). Razvi gave a speech in which he said, “The 45 million Muslims in the Indian Union would be our 5th column in any showdown”. 1 Pg 477 The provincial governments of Bombay, Central Provinces and Madras had given reports of Razakar’s lawlessness on the border.

Due to numerous efforts, Patel initialled The Heads of Agreement. It provided that the Nizam’s Government if requested by New Delhi, would pass legislation similar to India in the matters of defence, foreign affairs and external communications.

Further, the Hyderabad Army would be limited to a maximum of 20,000, and Razakars would be gradually disbanded. Also, the Nizam would declare that he would hold a plebiscite, and form a Constituent Assembly with leaders of major political parties. 1

When Laik Ali reached Hyderabad with the initialled copy the Nizam and his advisors had a new set of demands. Aware this would happen Patel convinced the Cabinet in May 1948 to authorise preparations for military action.

Mountbatten left on June 21 and Patel had returned from Dehradun (recovery from illness). Now the economic blockage became official and tighter. “Hyderabad played into his hands by hiring gun-runners who were taking off at night from airports in Pakistan and touching down on landing strips in Bidar and Warangal.” 1 Pg 481 Patel A Life by Rajmohan Gandhi

Razakars and Communists appeared to be forging close links. In July 1948, a Hindu member of Nizam’s council Shri Joshi resigned, charging the police and Razakars for jointly terrorising Hindus in Hyderabad’s western districts. (for details of atrocities see pg. 55 of 7). Violence against Hindus invited military action by India.

Jinnah died on August 11, 1948. Operation Polo started on the dawn of the 13th. Razakar resistance was stiffer than the State troops. It was all over by the 17th evening. “Razakar figures were 2727 killed, 3364 captured. Indian casualties were 42 killed and 24 missing”. 1

Undivided Andhra Pradesh produces quality handlooms even today.

Major General Chaudhari took over on September 18 as Military Governor. Nizam was appointed as a constitutional head. Post defeat the Nizam withdrew the complaint to the United Nations, and disowned the Razakars amongst others.

Since India defeated Hyderabad State on September 17 resulting in it becoming part of India, the date assumes significance.

It is important for Indians of today to realize what life under Nizam rule can be.


1. Patel A Life by Rajmohan Gandhi

2. Year-long liberation celebration

3. Role of Arya Samaj in the liberation of Hyderabad State. To download click on PDF

4. All you wanted to know about the accession of J&K to India

5. Solution to J&K problem lies in New Delhi

6. The early MIM was a great defender of Nizam’s communalism & feudalism

7. White Paper on Hyderabad State by Government of India.

Also, read

1. A brief history of the Nizam of Hyderabad

2. Arya Samaj Movement in the erstwhile Hyderabad State 1938-39

3. Arya Samaj and DAV Movement – Social and Educational Dimensions

4. Border Movement in Hyderabad Karnataka for Liberation and Integration (1947-48).

5. When Razvi’s Pakistan born grand-daughter visited Hyderabad

6. Hidden history of the Owasis – what MIM does not want you to know

7. Look back in denial

8. Temple in Warangal Fort

Author: Sanjeev Nayyar is a chartered accountant and founder, of www.esamskriit.com
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