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Published in the 16-31 March 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Was the movement against Nizam a "liberation movement"?

The Milli Gazette Online 

On 13 January 2005 the central government announced pension for more than 4,500 “freedom fighters” of the so-called “Hyderabad Liberation Struggle”. This extraordinary decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. After a long wait, an additional 4,500 participants of the “Hyderabad Liberation Struggle” will get a Central Freedom Fighters' Pension of Rs 4,000 a month in addition to free railway passes. The net outgo from the exchequer would be Rs 207.4 million a year. ''Most of the beneficiaries are in their seventies and eighties and come from poor families,'' Information Minister Jaipal Reddy said. About 11,000 participants of the “Hyderabad Liberation Struggle” are already receiving pension since 1985.

MG comment: It is a travesty of history and common sense that the communal movement against the Nizam rule is dubbed as a “liberation struggle” and its participants are given life-time “pension” from the exchequer. Nizam was not a foreign occupier. Only the Congress who could accommodate a hardened communalist like Narasimha Rao could take such decisions which rub salt in the wounds of the Muslims of Andhra Pradesh who bore the brunt of that fake struggle and the so-called “Police Action” by the Indian Army which led to the murder of tens if not hundreds of thousands. According to the Sundarlal Report, at least 27,000 people were killed during and after the so-clled “Police Action” alone. In Latur alone over a thousand had been killed. “Rape, abduction of women (sometimes out of the state to Indian towns such as Sholapur and Nagpur) loot, arson, desecration of mosques, forcible conversions, seizure of houses and lands, followed or accompanied the killings. Tens of crores worth of property was looted or destroyed. The sufferers were Muslims who formed a hopeless minority in rural areas. The perpetrators of these atrocities were not limited to those who had suffered at the hands of Razakars, not to the non-Muslims of Hyderabad state. These latter were aided and abetted by individuals and bands of people, with and without arms, from across the border, who had infiltrated through in the wake of the Indian Army...During our tour we gathered, at not a few places, that soldiers encouraged, persuaded and in a few cases even compelled the Hindu mob to loot Muslim shops and houses...Complaints of molestation and abduction of girls, against Sikh soldiers particularly, were by no means rare. We were generally told that at many places out of the looted property cash, gold and silver was taken away by military while other articles fell to the share of the mob...Like the Razakars the perpetrators of crimes against the Muslims encouraged the belief that they had the backing of the authorities” (http://www.frontlineonnet. com/fl1805/18051140.htm).

Margrit Pernau, a German scholar, records in her book The Passing of Patrimonalism that "while the occupation by the Indian army had been quick and had caused only relatively few casualties, the following communal carnage was all the more terrible. The Razakars had sown wind and reaped not only storm but a hurricane which in a few days cost the lives of one-tenth to one-fifth of the male Muslim population primarily in the countryside and provincial towns" (page 336). 

Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith, a scholar on Islam and a critic of Jinnah's politics, wrote a seminal article in The Middle East Journal in 1950 (volume 4) titled "Hyderabad: A Muslim Tragedy." He was lecturer in Islamic History at the University of the Punjab and at the Forman Christian College, Lahore (1940-1946) and visited Hyderabad in 1949. In a critique of the Nizam's policies and of Qasim Razvi, the leader of the Razakars, he also fairly described the aftermath: "Off the battlefield, however, the Muslim community fell before a massive and brutal blow, the devastation of which left those who did survive reeling in bewildered fear. Thousands upon thousands were slaughtered; many hundreds of thousands uprooted. The instrument of their disaster was, of course, vengeance. Particularly in the Marathwara section of the state, and to a less but still terrible extent in most other areas, the story of the days after 'police action' is grim. 

"The only careful report on what happened in this period was made a few months later by investigators - including a Congress Muslim and a sympathetic and admired Hindu - commissioned by the Indian Government to study the situation. The report was submitted but has not been published; presumably it makes unpleasant reading. It is widely held that the figure mentioned therein for the number of Muslims massacred is 50,000. Other estimates by responsible observers run as high as 200,000, and by some of the Muslims themselves still higher. The lowest estimates, even those offered privately by apologists of the military government, came to at least ten times the number of murders with which previously the Razakars were officially accused... In some areas, all the men were stood in a line, and done to death. Of the total Muslim community in Hyderabad, it would seem that somewhere between one in ten and one in five of the adult males may have lost their lives in those few days. In addition to killing, there was widespread rape, arson, looting, and expropriation. A very large percentage of the entire Muslim population of the districts fled in destitution to the capital or other cities; and later efforts to repatriate them met with scant success." Wilfred Cantwell Smith was referring to a report by Pandit Sundarlal (1886-1980) and Kazi Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar (1889-1956). 

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