Telangana Liberation Day
While India’s national flag was unfurled across the nation on 15th August 1947, the erstwhile state of Hyderabad had to wait for an agonising 13 months, still languishing under the tyranny of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan
While India's national flag was unfurled across the nation on 15th August 1947, the erstwhile state of Hyderabad had to wait for an agonising 13 months, still languishing under the tyranny of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan. It was only after a relentless struggle with Sardar Vallabhai Patel ordering police action under Operation Polo that the entire Hyderabad Deccan was finally liberated on September17,1948.
This September 17, Maharashtra will be celebrating the 73rd Marathwada Mukti Sangram Diwas. Maharashtra in general and the Marathwada region in particular recognise the valiant efforts of Swami Ramanand Tirth, Govindbhai Shroff, Vajayantra Kabra, P H Patwardhan, and others to gain independence from the Nizam. These leaders withstood the violence unleashed by the private militia of the Nizam, the Razakars, which is well documented in written histories and discussed in the oral lore of the region. Similarly, Karnataka too celebrates Hyderabad-Karnataka Liberation Day to commemorate the liberation of the north eastern districts of Bidar, Kalaburagi and Raichur that were part of the erstwhile Hyderabad state.
Unfortunately, my home state of Telangana does not share the same fortune. In spite of the entire present-day Telangana being part of the erstwhile Hyderabad Deccan state under the Nizam, there is no recognition of the heroes of this region who withstood the atrocities of the Razakars in fighting for the region's liberation. The heroics and sacrifices of the Telangana region leaders Komaram Bheem, P V Narasimha Rao, Marri Chennareddy, Shoebullah Khan, Vandemataram Ramachandra Rao, Narayanarao Pawar and Chakali Ailamma are fading from our collective memory as a generation passes on. Their contributions will be forgotten unless immortalised in books, monuments and in our collective memories.
It is ironic that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi,which supported the demand for observing Telangana Liberation Day throughout the course of the Telangana statehood agitation, made a volte-face after coming to power. The reasons were purely political. The state government is protecting its ally, the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), and its inglorious past.
The MIM's leader at the time of India's independence, Qasim Rizvi, believed in establishing Hyderabad Deccan as an independent Islamic nation and supported the Nizam by providing about 150,000 MIM volunteers to augment the Nizam's regular army of 24,000. These became the Razakars that would later unleash carnage in the princely state. The Razakars rampaged villages, molested women, killed men, and destroyed everything in sight. The celebration of Telangana Liberation Day would bring to everybody's notice the ideological roots of the MIM and their ghastly actions. The MIM, in an attempt to hide its own treacherous past, is equating the September 17 celebrations with insulting the Nizam and, by extension, angering the Muslim community.
The appeasement streak in Indian politics is so strong that the state government forgets that it was Muslim journalists, such as Shoebullah Khan, who were at the forefront of the agitation and were killed by the Razakars for advocating a merger with India. It forgets that by not celebrating this historic day, it is actually turning a blind eye to the sacrifices made by common Hindus and Muslims of Telangana to integrate their state with the Indian Union.
It was common citizens who were at the receiving end of the Razakar violence. Bhairanpally, a tiny village in Warangal, sacrificed hundreds to the bullets of the Razakars. When the villagers did not allow the Razakars to pass,enroute to Karimnagar, they indiscriminately pillaged everything, molested women, and lined up able-bodied men and shot them for their amusement; they looted and plundered every village on their journey.
Peasants of Parkal town in Warangal also put up a valiant resistance against the Nizam and his Razakars. When news reached the residents of Parkal and the surrounding villages that India had achieved its independence on August 15, 1947, they decided to hoist the national flag and celebrate the occasion.
However, this patriotic fervour was rewarded with a lathi charge and gun firing by the Razakars. Three people were tied to a tree and shot mercilessly at Rangapuram village. Women of Laxmipuram were raped and their gold and money were looted. India's former Prime Minister, P V Narasimha Rao, had described the events of Rangapuram and Laxmipuram villages as South India's Jallianwala Bagh. The MIM wants to bury this unsavoury past, and the state government seems more than happy to do their bidding.
The histories of our land and the valiant struggles that made India what it is today needs to serve as an inspiration for today's youth and future generations. Burying our history, especially inconvenient truths, is a perverted form of appeasement that will serve no purpose. The least we can do is to observe September 17 as Telangana Liberation Day and setup a memorial honouring the brave who fought for the region's liberation so that present and future generations can learn about the courage of our forefathers.
(The author is the Minister of State for Home Affairs, and a Member of Parliament from the Secunderabad constituency)