The Destruction of Hyderabad


Book: The Destruction of Hyderabad
Auhtor:  A.G. Noorani
Year: 2013
Pages: 412/HB / Price: Rs 825
ISBN: 978-93-82381-24-2
Publisher: Tulika Book, New Delhi

The story of the fall of Hyderabad State has been told a good many times. It was told mostly by the court historians of Indian nationalism. This study seeks to revise the official historical account of the so-called “Police Action”  which was actually an invasion of  the Indian army against the forces and government of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

“The Destruction of Hyderabad” provides a detailed record of the diplomatic exchanges between the Government of India and the Government of Hyderabad during the British Raj, and after partition and independence in 1947. These are based on archival sources in Hyderabad which remain largely unexplored by scholars.

The author has unearthed contemporary diplomatic correspondence, the Sunderlal Committee report on the massacre of Hyderabad’s Muslim population during and after the “Police Action” (since suppressed by the Indian State), and a wealth of memoirs and first-hand accounts of the clandestine workings of territorial nationalism in its bleakest and most shameful hour.

The author brings to light the largely ignored and fateful intervention of M. A. Jinnah in the destruction of Hyderabad, both while he was President of the Muslim League and after he became Governor General of Pakistan.

The celebrated author also addresses the communal leanings of Sardar Patel and his hand-picked Agent-General K. M. Munshi, a staunch Hindu nationalist, in shaping Hyderabad’s fate.

The book is dedicated to the “other” Hyderabad: a culturally syncretic state, a tolerant society with a rich composite culture which communal forces in India found alien.

Mr. Noorani refers to the incongruity of the military operation being styled as ‘police action’ and says Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel differed on the military option. While Nehru wanted military option to be the last resort, Patel wanted it to be the first. Mr. Noorani calls Nehru an ardent ‘Indian nationalist’ and Patel a ‘Hindu nationalist’ and explains in depth their differences on many things, including the Quit India movement. He further writes how Nehru had contempt for the Nizam’s set-up, but bore no malice towards him personally, while Patel hated the Nizam personally and ideologically opposed Hyderabad’s composite culture. “Nehru wanted to avoid India’s balkanisation by defeating Hyderabad’s secessionist venture. Patel wanted to go further. He wanted to destroy Hyderabad and its culture completely,” Mr. Noorani writes in this book.

The feudal order of the Nizam, Mr. Noorani says, deserved to be discarded, but the violent change to democratic order made the transition more painful with lasting consequences.

A. G. Noorani is an Advocate, Supreme Court of India, and a leading constitutional expert and political commentator. He is a regular columnist for Frontline and the author of numerous books, including “The Kashmir Dispute 1947-2012”, in two volumes (2013); “Islam, South Asia and the Cold War” (2012); “Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir” (2011); “Jinnah and Tilak: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle” (2010); “India-China Boundary Problem 1846-1947: History and Diplomacy” (2010); “Indian Political Trials 1775-1947” (2006); “Constitutional Questions and Citizens’ Rights” (2006); “The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record” (editor, 2003); “Islam and Jihad: Prejudice versus Reality” (2003); and “The Babri Masjid Question 1528-2003: ‘A Matter of National Honour’”, in two volumes (2003). A third volume of “The Babri Masjid Question” is forthcoming.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2013 on page no. 21

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