The Liberation of Hyderabad: Sardar Patel’s Decisive Action

In the annals of Indian history, the liberation of Hyderabad stands out as a remarkable testament to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s decisive leadership, ensuring the territorial unity of a newly independent India. Today, as we recall the day Hyderabad was reintegrated, it’s crucial to understand the backdrop against which these events unfolded.

Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, was a prominent figure during the pre-independence era, presiding over one of the most extensive provinces of the time. His allegiance to the British Empire was no secret, and he was known to bestow lavish gifts, portraying himself as the quintessential loyalist. Indeed, the Nizams and their trusted allies, the Salar Jung family, supported the British during the Sepoy rebellion. Despite being one of the world’s richest men, the Nizam’s administration left a vast majority of his subjects in abject poverty. This stark contrast is still evident in regions like Gulbarga, Bijapur, and parts of Telangana, which, to this day, grapple with the legacy of impoverishment.

The governance under the Nizam was characterized by a rigid feudal structure. Local chieftains, Zamindars and Jagirdars, extracted heavy taxes from peasants, artisans, and entrepreneurs, funneling these immense riches to the Nizam’s coffers. As the citizens struggled, the Nizam invested in opulent forts and castles, exemplifying his luxurious lifestyle. Although he was celebrated globally, even featuring in Times Magazine as an immensely wealthy individual, the wealth disparity within his realm was profound.

However, as India inched towards independence, the Nizam grew increasingly uneasy. Fearful of the fate of his Muslim-majority kingdom within a Hindu-majority India, he sought alternatives. His ally, Qasim Rizvi, championed the idea that the Hindu populace had been subjugated for centuries and should remain so. This belief led to the formation of the Razakar terrorists. In a bid to alter the demography of Hyderabad, they invited Muslims from all over India, especially those inclined towards joining Pakistan.

Amidst this chaos, Hindus, feeling marginalized and persecuted, attempted to organize themselves. However, without ample resources or military might, they were outmatched by the better-armed Razakars. As tensions reached their peak, Sardar Patel extended an olive branch, inviting Kasim Razvi for negotiations. Yet, Razvi’s demands for complete autonomy were non-negotiable.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, Sardar Patel orchestrated “Operation Polo” in September 1948. Led by Major General Chaudhuri, the Indian Army, with its superior strategic and technological prowess, began its march into Hyderabad. In a swift campaign that lasted merely three days, the Nizam conceded and acceded to the Indian union on September 18, 1948.

Sardar Patel’s role was pivotal. In an era of political uncertainty, he undertook the monumental task of unifying 500 princely states. Had it not been for his foresight and leadership, India’s fate might have mirrored the fractious nation-states seen in parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Today, as Hyderabad stands tall as an epicenter of education, technology, and innovation, every Indian should remember the sacrifices and the leadership that paved the way. Patel’s vision of unity should serve as a beacon, guiding India towards greater cooperation and solidarity among its diverse states.


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