- As Featured in The Deccan Chronicle.
65 years after Operation Polo, the September 17, 1948, military action in which the Indian Armed Forces annexed the state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union, Deccan Chronicle talks to those who witnessed history being written to get a better perspective of the polarising event, popularly called Hyderabad Police Action.
Kids were abandoned in fields
Nearly 66 years after her escape from Ausa to Hyderabad, along with her husband and two kids, 90-year-old Zubeda Begum recalls that it took them 13 days to reach the city.
“My husband was a prominent advocate and a landlord and militants targeted us. Thirty of us started at night on foot and took shelter in the agricultural lands,” she said.
It took them a week to reach Mominabad railway station, which was under the Army’s control. An officer helped them board a bogie that was carrying horses.
“We were in that bogie for more than 72 hours and ate and survived on whatever was given to the horses,” she said, adding, “It was a horrible and terrifying experience. I saw parents sacrifice their kids by leaving them in the fields to avoid the attention of the armed forces.”
“We saw many being killed by the armed forces. My husband too told me to abandon our kids as their weeping may attract the attention of the forces. Somehow I managed to convince him and we reached Hyderabad. Now they’re in their sixties,” Zubeda added.
“It was with surprise that we saw a marriage procession in front of the Nampally railway station There was literally no impact of the police action there,” she said.
Abdul Shukur, 76, from Chakur village near Bidar town, was a Muhajir who survived the militants’ attack. He says that whenever highway brigand Appa Rao’s gang raided their village, they fled into the forest for shelter.
Another survivor, Md Abdul Rawoof, 85, said they survived for days by eating leaves and stems when militant groups attacked their village. He said that he had seen the army drag out and kill about 60 people of his village (Ausa) on suspicion that they were Razakars.
Not Police Action, it was Military Action
Narrating his experience of escaping from Ausa village in Latur district of Maharashtra to Hyderabad, after a militant attack on his village, Mohammed Khaleel Ahmed Siddique, 89, said, “After the killing of my uncle Abdul Razaq by militants, my father forced us to leave the village. I, along with some other youngsters, moved towards Hyderabad.”
“Armed forces deployed in the villages would not allow villagers to come out of their houses during the day and we travelled through sorghum (jowar) fields at night under the moonlight.”
“During the day, we used to take shelter in the shades of sorghum plants which grew to about five to six feet in the month of September,” Ahmed recalled, adding that they survived without food and water for about three days. “Our group reached Balky, caught a train there and reached Hyderabad.” The group was given shelter at the Muhajir camp near the High Court building in Hyderabad.
“On our way to Balky, we found several dead bodies lying in pools of blood in the fields and also in wells,” Siddique recalled.
“The elder son of Syed Kasim Razvi (head of the Razakars) was my classmate. I don’t recall his name but I was close to Asif Razvi, Kasim Razvi’s second son. I learnt Arabic and Urdu from Kasim Razvi’s wife as she taught the children of the mohallah (locality),” he added.
“In my view, it was not a police action but a military action; we could not find any police personnel but only Army personnel in our area at that time,” he said.
Ahmed said that prior to the military action, the Razakar movement was gaining momentum in the villages and each village, including theirs, was provided one or two rifles by the Razakars.