Exclusive : Pandit Sunderlal Report
“Something is terribly wrong when Indian citizens are kept in dark about the biggest pogrom since Independence, even after foreign sources have lifted the lid. India’s jihadi press is fully aware of the 1948 massacre, and projects its censorship as evidence of Hindu oppression. This is not how a liberal democracy should function. India cannot become a truly unified nation on the basis of suppressed reports and sanitized textbooks. The Sunderlal report must be made public.” – India Times
(1) The Honourable the Prime Minister, Government of India, New Delhi.
(2) The Honourable the States Minister, Government of India, New Delhi.
We were asked by the Government of India to proceed to Hyderabad State on a goodwill mission. After completing our task there we now beg to submit our report.
(1) The delegation consisting of Pandit Sundarlal, Kazi Abdul Ghaffar and Moulana Abdulla Misri arrived at Hyderabad on the 29th of November and returned to Delhi on the 21st of December 1948. During this period we toured through 9 out of the 16 district s of the state, visiting 7 district headquarters, 21 towns and 23 important villages. In addition we interviewed over 500 people from 109 such villages as we did not visit.
Further 31 public meetings at various places and 27 private gatherings of Hindus, Muslims, Congress men, Official Members of Jamiat Ullma and of the Ittahadul Muslimeen, the staffs and students of some Educational Institutions, Members of the Progressive Writers Association and of the Hindustani Parchar Sabha, etc., were addressed by members of the delegation.
Amongst important men and officials interviewed by us may be mentioned H.E.H. the Nizam, H.E. the Prince of Berar, Major General Choudhri, Mr. Bakhlo, the Chief Civil Administrator, Swami Ramanand Tirtha, Dr. Malkote, Messrs Ramchander Rao, Ramachari, K. Vadya, Venkat Rao and Abul Hassan Sayed Ali, Nawab Ali Yawar Jung, Nawab Zain Yar Jung, Raja Dhonde Raj, Moulana Abu Yousuf, Moulvi Abdul Khair, and Moulvi Hameed uddin Qamar Farooqi.
At all these meetings and interviews the main problem discussed was that of the creation and maintenance of cordial relations between the communities. Appeals were made to the people to forget the past and to work unremittingly for the establishment of peace and harmony amongst themselves. The aim and policy of the Indian Union was also explained and special emphasis was laid on the objective which was the establishment of a secular government for the people of Hyderabad, in which all of them irrespective of religion, caste or creed will enjoy equal freedom and civil rights and will have equal opportunities for development and progress. It was made perfectly clear that the military administration had been charged with the duty of implementing that policy. We clarified our position, whenever opportunity presented itself saying that ours was not a Commission of investigation or Inquiry into events proceeding or following the police action and that ours was merely a goodwill mission charged with the task of restoring better communal relations. All the same, we feel it our duty to bring to your notice what we saw and gathered in our touring, as it has, in our opinion, an importance all its own.
(2) Hyderabad State has 16 districts, comprising nearly 22,000 villages. Out of them only three districts remained practically, though not wholly, free of communal trouble which affected the state first during the activities of the Razakars and then during the reprisals that followed the collapse of that organisation. In another four districts the trouble had been more serious but nothing like the havoc that overtook the remaining eight. Out of these again the worst sufferers have been the districts of Osmanabad, Gulburga, Bidar and Nanded, in which four the number of people killed during and after the police action was not less, if not more than 18,000. In the other four districts viz. Aurangabad, Bir, Nalgunda and Medak those who lost their lives numbered at least 5 thousand.
We can say at a very conservative estimate that in the whole state at least 27 thousand to 40 thousand people lost their lives during and after the police action. We were informed by the authorities that those eight were the most affected districts and needed most the good offices of our delegation. We, therefore, concentrated on these and succeeded, we might say, to some extent at least, in dispelling the atmosphere of mutual hostility and distrust.
It is a significant fact that out of these eight the four worst affected districts (Osmanabad, Gulburga, Bidar and Nanded) had been the main strongholds of Razakars and the people of these four districts had been the worst sufferers at the hands of the Razakars. In the town of Latur, the home of Kasim Razvi – which had been a big business centre, with rich Kuchhi Muslim merchants, the killing continued for over twenty days. Out of a population of about ten thousand Muslims there we found barely three thousand still in the town. Over a thousand had been killed and the rest had run away with little else besides their lives and completely ruined financially.
(3) Almost everywhere in the affected areas communal frenzy did not exhaust itself in murder, alone in which at some places even women and children were not spared. Rape, abduction of women (sometimes out of the state to Indian towns such as Sholapur and Nagpur) loot, arson, desecration of mosques, forcible conversions, seizure of houses and lands, followed or accompanied the killing. Tens of crores worth of property was looted or destroyed. The sufferers were Muslims who formed a hopeless minority in rural areas. The perpetrators of these atrocities were not limited to those who had suffered at the hands of Razakars, not to the non-Muslims of Hyderabad state. These latter were aided and abetted by individuals and bands of people, with and without arms , from across the border, who had infiltrated through in the wake of the Indian Army. We found definite indications that a number of armed and trained men belonging to a well known Hindu communal organisation from Sholapur and other Indian towns as also some local and outside communists participated in these riots and in some cases actually led the rioters.
(4) Duty also compels us to add that we had absolutely unimpeachable evidence to the effect that there were instances in which men belonging to the Indian Army and also to the local police took part in looting and even other crimes. During our tour we gathered, at not a few places, that soldiers encouraged, persuaded and in a few cases even compelled the Hindu mob to loot Muslim shops and houses. At one district town the present Hindu head of the administration told us that there was a general loot of Muslim shops by the military. In another district a Munsif house, among others was looted by soldiers and a Tahsildar’s wife molested. Complaints of molestation and abduction of girls, against Sikh soldiers particularly, were by no means rare. We were gen erally told that at many places out of the looted property cash, gold and silver was taken away by military while other articles fell to the share of the mob. Unfortunately there was a certain element in the army which was not free from communal feelings probably because some of them could not forget the atrocities committed elsewhere on their own kith and kin.
Lest we might be understood to imply a slur on the Indian army we hasten to record our considered opinion that the Indian Army and its officers in Hyderabad generally maintained a high standard of discipline and sense of duty. In General Choudhri we found a man without any tinge of communal prejudice, a firm disciplinarian and thorough gentleman.
We were given by Muslims instances in which Hindus had defended and given protection to their Muslim neighbours, men and women even at the cost of their own lives. In some professions the fellow feeling was particularly marked. For instance at places Hindu weavers defended Muslim weavers against Hindu and protected them often at a very heavy cost (including loss of life) to themselves. Many Hindus helped in the recovery of abducted Muslim women.
(5) This communal trouble followed close upon the heels of the police action and the consequent collapse of the Razakar organisation, which had stood in the Muslim mind, as an effective barrier against the establishment of responsible government which was synonymous, to the average Hyderabadi Muslim, with Hindu Raj, because it would be based on the will of the Hindu majority. Muslim masses were generally slow to realise that their sufferings were the inevitable repercussions of the atrocities committed on the Hindus only, a few days before, by the Razakars. The Razakars movement had the sympathy of a good number of Muslimans in Hyderabad. Such of them as dared publicly to oppose that madness paid heavily for their temerity, so much so that one of them fell before the bullet of an assassin. Like the Razakars the perpetrators of crimes against the Muslims encouraged the belief that they had the backing of the authorities.
Before closing we must gratefully acknowledge the valuable help and willing cooperation given to us by the Military Administration in Hyderabad, by Government officials in the districts we visited, by public workers and prominent citizens and lastly by our two Secretaries Messrs Furrukh Sayer and P.P. Ambulkar.