India’s Independence and the union of princely states with it was not just a diplomatic war. The history of accession of princely states hides a grim saga of trauma and genocide. The Hindu-Muslim riots at the time of partition took center stage in the post-independence struggle. However, the lesser-known chapter of the princely state of Hyderabad quietly harbors the tragedy of Brahmin genocide and the role of Razakars. This episode of mass genocide of Hindus stands as a haunting reminder of the depths the ‘peacefuls’ can sink to when fueled by fanaticism and power.
The Princely State of Hyderabad
The state of Hyderabad began its existence as a Mughal vassal in the 1700s. Its rulers held the nominal ‘khitab’ of Nizam. The princely state had an 85% Hindu population. However, due to the dominance of the ‘peacefuls’ in power, Muslims held seats of power in the army, police, and civil service. The Nizam owned only 10% of the land of the state. The rest was controlled by large landowners. During India’s independence, the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali wanted to hold on to his power and wealth. He refused to accede to India despite repeated diplomatic efforts of the Indian government.
The princely state ran right across the center of the new nation of India. It occupied the Deccan plateau with an area of more than 80,000 square miles. It was home to 16 million people. Most of them came under three linguistic groups Telugu, Kannada, and Marathi. Hyderabad was a landlocked state. However, its self-sufficiency in food, cotton, oilseed, coal, and cement gave the princely state a carefree attitude towards India. The Nizam signed a Standstill Agreement with the Indian government in November 1947. This ensured that diplomatic routes remained open between Nizam and the Indian government. However, Hyderabad was free from the dominion of India.
The Rise of the Razakars
The officials of the Hyderabad government were mainly from the minority community of the princely state.
They were staunch supporters of Jinnah and the Muslim League. The greed of these officials, for maintaining their might and power, was a primary cause for the rise of the Razakars.
The Razakars were a fanatical militia formed in the late 1940s. They were led by Qasim Razvi, a religious zealot and firm believer in ‘Muslim pride’. Sources state that post independence the princely state of Hyderabad had 2,00,000 Razakars along with 40,000 trained army personnel. This military might helped the Nizam of Hyderabad dictate his terms to India in 1947. The Razakar army was known for its notorious extremist ideology. Influenced by its leader’s pro-Muslim narrative, this militia group had the intent and determination to establish an Islamic state in Hyderabad.
The Genocide of Brahmins
The Razakars’ agenda took a chilling turn post-1947. Reports of the Hindu-Muslim riots in India’s partition helped them justify their campaign of terror against the Brahmin community in Hyderabad. The Nanded and Aurangabad districts were the primary targets of this hate campaign, aimed at the elimination of Brahmins. This campaign was fueled by the anti-Hindu agenda of the Muslim leaders of Pakistan. The militia raided and pillaged Hindu villages. They killed Brahmins as the community stood as a symbol of the social and cultural influence of Hindu ideology. The attacks were marked by brutality and violence. Reports state that the Razakars killed Brahmins by impaling them and removing their eyes. The widespread violence ran uncontrolled in the state of Hyderabad for a long time.
PM Nehru’s Political Ineptitude
While the Nizam of Hyderabad was consolidating power, the Congress under PM Nehru was oblivious. Even after the state of Hyderabad banned exports to the Indian government, PM Nehru’s love for the ‘peacefuls’ led him to have a benign approach to the problem. The Brahmin genocide orchestrated by the Razakars clearly displayed the toxic blend of religious intolerance and political ambitions. However, their quest for power intertwined with a desire to impose a particular religious identity, was left untouched by PM Nehru for a long time.
Reports of mass killings, forced conversions, and desecration of temples paint a grim picture of the atrocities inflicted upon the Brahmin population. Families were torn apart, lives were shattered, and communities were uprooted from their homes, leaving unhealed scars that endure to date. Finally, through ‘Operation Polo’ the Indian government gave a deserved response to the victims of Hyderabad state. On 17 September 1948, the state of Hyderabad ceased to exist after a battle that lasted more than 100 hours. The Nizam formally joined his lands to India and completely accepted the dominion of the Indian government on the erstwhile princely state. However, the accession of Hyderabad to India remains a traumatic memory that deserves due acknowledgment.
The tragic chapter of the Brahmin genocide post-Indian independence serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of unchecked fanaticism under the guise of pluralism and tolerance. It underlines the imperative of fostering a society where protection of Hindu rights is an imperative part of the narrative of diversity. Moreover, it is crucial to ensure that the stories of Hindu victims are not forgotten or buried by ‘distortians’. Thus by acknowledging the truth about Razakars and the accession of Hyderabad, India can honor the memory of thousands of lives lost in the misguided religious fervor of a ‘peaceful’ community.