‘Bandenaka Bandi katti
Padahaaru Ballu katti
Ye Bande Ektav Koduko
‘Car after car, your convoy stretches to 16 cars. Which car will you come in? O tyrant Nizam? your atrocities have crossed that of the Nazis, O tyrant Nizam’.
…sang the Telangana peasantry that rose in rebellion against the atrocities of his Razakars. These songs were committed to people’s memory through lore.
On the 50th death anniversary of Hyderabad’s last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, a few news outlets have published laudatory reminiscences of the ex-Sovereign’s wealth, magnificence and benevolence towards his subjects. After all, he was the richest man on the earth in 1937 as per Time Magazine and the man behind many of Hyderabad’s iconic landmarks like the High Court, Osmania hospital, Osman Sagar, Himayat Sagar lakes etc.
What was conspicuously missing is the mention of the literary masterpiece called ‘Tvamevaham’ (originally named Telangana) by Acharya Arudra which was published the very next decade, which portrayed the ruthlessness and brutality of the Razakars and the Nizam in Telangana. Arudra was moved by a shocking incident reported in Krishna Patrika in the late 40’s.
A totally naked young woman got into a train and to a total embarrassment of the passengers was breaking from one compartment to another. When someone remarked scornfully “how shameless?” The woman replied, “I have already lost my honour at the hands of Razakars and have nothing more to lose. It is you who should be ashamed of not doing anything to protect the womenfolk”. That young woman was tied to a tree and repeatedly raped for days together by the Nizam’s Razakars. That was the plight of peasant women in Telangana in the late 1940s.
What was missing is the conspicuous omission of the death sentence of Shayar-e-Inquilab Maqdoom Mohiuddin and his works Surkh Savera, Bisat-e-Raqs. What was missing is the mention of Suleiman Areef, the Hyderabadi of Arab descent and Hasan Nasir, the Pakistani from Deccan who was tortured to death by Ayun Khan of Pakistan. What was missing is the mention of Qasim Rizvi and his Razakar army’s brutal atrocities on the peasants of Telangana and the police action that saved Deccan from becoming Pakistan. Also for those who think Andhra and Telangana are too different, the Peasant rebellion of Telangana was organized under the leadership of Andhra Maha Sabha.
An unintended consequence of formation of Telangana is the strengthening of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party (AIMIM) which has anti-India, anti-Hindu roots. The party’s original objectives in its previous avatar were to unite the Muslims in the State in support of Nizam and to reduce the Hindu majority by large-scale conversion to Islam. The party was banned soon after independence and its leader Qasim Rizvi was extradited to Pakistan only to be reconstituted years later by a lawyer called Abdul Wahed Owaisi.
The Owaisis, although claiming the upliftment of Muslims (and recently of Dalits), are actually aristocrats commanding strong loyalty from their subjects who yearn for the return of the Nizamshahi. The second Owaisi leader of the party Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was called Salar-e-millat (commander of the Muslim community). The present Owaisi is the softer face of the party while his younger brother is the reincarnation of the Razakar leader, Qasim Rizvi.
Encouraged by their success in Telangana, the party has ventured into other states where there is significant Muslim population. The fact that the Muslims of neighbouring Telugu state of Andhra, where they are an insignificant minority, are not even on the radar of AIMIM, reeks of political opportunism.
Another consequence of these developments is the strengthening of RSS and BJP in areas where MIM is stoking the minority sentiment. The explicit Muslim politics of MIM will drive many Hindus to vote for BJP at a national level. It will also make the regional parties to pander to MIM’s whims for their political survival. This exactly what has happened in Telangana when CM KCR proposed to increase reservation for Muslims in educational institutions and employment to 12% from the present 4%.
For many Muslims, MIM will be an irresistible force mobilising them to throw their weight behind it, with a range of euphoric secular and counter-secular appeals like Muslim empowerment and the return of Nizamshahi.
Today, Mir Osman Ali Khan’s failures and tyrannical history are being white washed to portray him as the hero of masses, including non-Muslims. Just as Aurangzeb becomes a pious and just ruler, so does his Nizam. Today, on the occasion of the last Nizam’s death anniversary, I salute the souls that rose against his tyranny. Jai Maqdoom Mohiuddin, Jai Suleiman Areef. Jai Hasan Nasir.