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Qasim Razvi - The Freedom Fighter of Hyderabad Deccan, The Leader of Razakar Movement and Former President of the Largest Muslim Political Party in India, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM)

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By Shaikh Ahmed Ali

Death of MIM president Bahadur Yar Jung in June 1944 created a vaccum in the Muslim leadership, but it did not decrease the popularity of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. After his death, Abul Hasan Syed Ali became Majlis president and he was succeded by Mazhar Ali Kamil. Two years later, in 1946, Moulvi Syed Qasim Razvi was elected as the Majlis president.

Qasim Razvi was born in a middle-class family of Latur (now in Maharashtra) on 31st May, 1900. He did his graduation in law from the Aligarh Muslim University. When Bahadur Yar Jung appealed to the Musilms for funds, he donated all his properties to Majlis. Bahadur Yar Jung himself gave him the title of “Siddiq-e-Deccan” for this act. By donating whatever he owned, he emulated the first caliph of Islam Hazrath Abu Bakar Siddiq who donated everything for Islam.

Many historians described Qasim Razvi as an honest and brave person, but a highly emotional politician. According to Badar Shakeeb who authored “Hyderabad ka urooj aur zawal” (The Rise & Fall of Hyderabad) in 1964, Qasim Razvi was a good orator, but he had no control over words. His speeches repeatedly provoked the Indian Union, in general and the Indian Army, in particular. He had no idea about the military strength of either Hyderabad or the Indian Union. His hate speeches also angered the Hindu population.

“Even his deputies used to speak in the same tone. Their speeches and tall claims created a wrong impression that every Muslim in Hyderabad was a Razakar. Though none of them lost anything, but such speeches indirectly led to the massacre of lakhs of Muslims during Police Action. Razvi never tolerated criticism nor had the ability to take advise from others. But despite all negativities, he was honest towards the Muslim community and the Hyderabad State,” Badar Shakeeb said in his book.

But another author M.A.Azeez in his book “Police Action” gives a different version about Qasim Razvi. According to him, many speeches or statements which hurt the Hindu sentiments were attributed to him and he was defamed in a systematic manner. Primarily, the Hyderabad lobby comprising of Nawabs, Jagirdars, senior officials in Nizam’s government and others were not happy with Razvi getting elected as the President of a powerful organization – Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

Mohammad Mazheruddin, a close friend of Qasim Razvi, in his book “Police Action ke khaufnak mahaul mein” stated that Razvi was a very pious person. He never had any kind of hatred towards the Hindus and that was the reason why several non-Muslims also joined the Razakar movement to defend Hyderabad. He even instructed all the Majlis workers that they should not collect any donation from Hindus for the organisation. But he used to hate people who were against the freedom and sovereignty of Hyderabad on religious grounds.

Another historian Narendra Luther described Kasim Razvi as the man who gave Hyderabad its only traumatic experience in its history. “More than anybody else, he invited the ‘Police Action’ on Hyderabad”, he said.

Qasim Razvi was elected as Majlis president at the fag end of 1946. The years – 1947 and 1948 have seen so many changes that the situation became very volatile in Hyderabad and all his reactions and moves were termed as anti-Hindu or anti-India. The partition of India, brutal communal riots in different parts of the country and the arrival of nearly 10 lakh Muslim refugees from India to Hyderabad aggravated the communal atmosphere.

Unlike Bahadur Yar Jung who confronted the Nizam, Qasim Razvi not only tried to be friendly, but he posed himself as the saviour of the Nizam’s throne. He even claimed that he would hoist the flag of Asaf Jahi Dynasty on Red Fort and the waters of Bay of Bengal would wash the feet of Nizam.

Another author Akhtar Hussain, one of the members of the Progressive Writers Association, after meeting Qasim Razvi once quoted him as saying “There is no institution of kingship in Islam, but we want to keep our King alive, administering him morphine so as to guard the interests of Muslims and it is in their interests that this state should continue its existence.” This shows that Razvi was under the impression that he was using the Nizam to protect the Muslim community.

Despite the contradictions, Razvi’s honesty towards Muslims and Hyderabad State was indisputable although it was superseded by emotions and political ignorance. However, unlike the common perception, Razvi was not anti-Hindu. Razvi gave an emotional speech on 13th September 1948 while addressing the condolence meeting of Mohammad Ali Jinnah at Goshamahal Stadium. He informed thousands of audience that Hyderabad has been attacked by Indian Union. While asking the Muslims to defend Hyderabad, he gave clear instructions, “You should ensure that you do not harm any non-Muslims of our country (Hyderabad). Remember, our war is against the Indian Union, and not against Hindus. You should not attack women, children or elderly people. Don’t attack the unarmed and helpless enemy. Allah never helps those who commit atrocities.”

However, the ugliest role in this part of the history was played by the Nizam himself. He was extremely selfish, greedy and power-hungry monarch. He tried all means to stay in power. At one side, he projected himself as the last sign of Muslim power in Asia and some of his sycophants used to state that “Teri hukumat se Musalmanon ka nishaan baaki hai” (Muslims are surviving because of your kingdom). But on the other side, he was trying to project himself as a secular king. Several historians quoted Nizam as saying that Hindus and Muslims were like his two eyes. But he apparently failed to realise that both his ‘eyes’ were not happy with him and they were not willing to see what he was wanted to see through them i.e. continuance of his rule.

India achieved independence on 15th August 1947. On the same day, the Nizam too declared independence of Hyderabad State. He declared, “We are neither with free India nor with Pakistan, we are free and independent.” He went to Mecca Masjid to offer thanksgiving prayer. A congratulatory meeting was held at Abids crossroads because now ‘His Highness’ had become “His Majesty”. Offerings were made to him at this meeting.

The Nizam had made it clear that unlike other Native States he would not sign the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Government after independence. He sent a three-member delegation to Delhi for talks with Mountbatten. The talks dragged on until the end of September 1947. After tortuous negotiations, the Nizam finally entered into a `Stand Still Agreement’ on November 29, 1947, with India for one year to maintain status quo, which existed between the British and the Nizam before August 15, 1947. In the meanwhile, the Nizam sent a delegation to the U.N.O. to refer the Hyderabad case to the Security Council.

Several authors have elaborated on how and why the ‘Stand Still Agreement’ was violated and the reasons that led the Indian Union to send army for the annexation of Hyderabad. A strong case was built against the Nizam accusing him of violating the agreement conditions. A large-scale propaganda was carried out portraying the Razakars as barbarians who loot, plunder, rape and kill innocent Hindus. Though several contemporary writers have confirmed that the Razakars committed atrocities against Hindus in some areas, there was no large-scale violence against the community.

Most of the stories about atrocities committed by Razakars are factually incorrect and exaggerated. They were all part of the war propaganda initiated by the Indian Union. But it is undeniable that the Nizam was trying to use Razakars to defend his throne. Both Nizam and Qasim Razvi failed to realise that they were not enjoying the support of the entire Muslim community. The were also unaware of of the military might of the Indian Union and their own strengths.

General J.N.Chowdary who led the ‘Operation Polo’. in his book ‘Armoured Division in Operation Polo’ made some interesting observations. According to him, “the Nizam had a regular army of 22,000 men. They had modern weapons including tanks. Besides these, it has three regiments of armed cars. In addition, it has an irregular army of 10,000 men and nearly 75 per cent of them have light weaponry. Arab Army is of nearly 10,000 men with light weaponry. Police and Custom Forces too are of 10,000 men armed with modern rifles and sten guns. There are nearly 2 lakh Razakars and nearly 20 per cent of them have modern rifles, guns and pistols. The rest have spears, swords and missile loading guns.”

Chowdary further opined that, “The common Muslims of Hyderabad by nature are not warriors. They are peace-loving and they were tired of Razakars. A majority of them were also not happy with Nizam’s Government. Except for some, common Hindus will support the Indian Union.”

About Nizam’s Army, he said, “Nizam’s Army and Razakars were although more in numbers, but they were not trained in modern warfare. The commander-in-chief Al-Idroos was inefficient and useless person. The army is not happy with him and he was not so loyal to Nizam as he used to pretend. Al-Idroos even used to leak information about his own army.”

Hyderabad State was an inseperable part of India even before its got its name and even before the Mughals conquered it. Therefore, it was destined to merge with the Indian Union. However, the then leaders — Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel choose a dirty and violent way of erasing the boundary line between the Indian Union and Hyderabad State.

On 11th September 1948 Mohammad Ali Jinnah passed away. Entire Hyderabad State was mourning his death. But nobody would have even sensed that their mourning period would extend for several decades. The Hyderabadi Muslims never guessed that they will have to mourn the death of thousands of others in the next few days.

Without even exploring the option of peaceful annexation, the Indian Union, to be precise, Sardar Patel ordered the Indian Army to annexe Hyderabad. As the part of ‘Operation Polo’, the army entered the Hyderabad State from different routes. Despite making tall claims, neither the Nizam’s official army nor the Razakars got a clue of annexation plan. The Indian Army hardly faced any resistance and was able to capture an entire kingdom in just three days of ‘Police Action’. Even the Indian Army was surprised at not facing any kind of resistance from either the Hyderabad’s Army or the Razakars.

Those three days were the ugliest part of Hyderabad’s history. Although the Indian Army’s brief was to annexe Hyderabad and counter resistance, some soldiers used the opportunity for the genocide of the Muslim community. Thousands of Muslims were brutally murdered both by the Indian Army and the Hindu fundamentalists. This incident had a great impact on the mindset of the Muslim community.

Senior Congress leader of Uttar Pradesh Pandit Sundar Lal and nationalists Qazi Mohammad Abdul Gaffar visited the Marathwada, Bidar and Gulbarga during November-December 1948, a month after the Police Action. It was an official visit and they submitted a report to Nehru and Patel. Dr. Omer Khalidi has reproduced a part of this report in his book “Hyderabad – After the Fall’ and the translated version of the same was published by Majlis-e-Tameer-e-Millat in a book titled “Suqoot-e-Hyderabad”.

According to Sundar Lal report, the overall situation in Hyderabad State was peaceful before 13 September 1948. During ‘Police Action’ all the Muslims living in Marathwada and Telangana were targeted. Their houses and shops were looted in the presence of Indian Army. The Army itself targeted Muslims and also encouraged the locals to commit crimes. A few officers were good, but the soldiers have shown utmost brutality. Travelling from trains or buses became impossible. Muslims used to be dragged out and sent to jails on the suspicion of being Razakars. Indian Army soldiers raped several women.

Muslims used to be hand-cuffed and dragged out of their houses and killed. Muslim girls used to be raped and sent home the next day. Again in the night, the local goondas used to bring them for raping. Children were forced to witness the massacre. Hundreds of women were raped in broad daylight and later, many of them committed suicide. Even hundreds of children were killed. In Shuvarpur, bodies of 40 children were later retrieved from one well.

Heavy rains from 14th to 16th September saved thousands of other Muslims. They took refuge in forests and Indian Army’s vehicles could not move due to mud and stagnated water. While thousands of Muslims were being killed only on the suspicion of being Razakars, the Nizam was busy bargaining with the Indian Union. He bargained for his property, his children, his employees and his lifestyle. At no point of time, he requested the Indian Union to stop the brutality against the community.

Having realised that the battle for Hyderabad State is lost, Qasim Razvi announced his surrender. He gave an emotional speech in his last broadcast on radio, “There is a rumour that I have fled to Pakistan. I was born in Deccan and will be buried in Deccan. I was born with you and will die with you. I have taken first drop of your blood, but now I won’t take your last drop. Whatever comes, face it with patience and peace. This was the fate of Deccan and its citizens. God wanted this to happen.”

On 17the September 1948, Nizam announced the resignation of his government. He also mentioned that he ordered his army to surrender. An army which never fought a war, surrendered before Gen.Chowdhary.

However, at the end of Police Action, the horror stories about the Razakars were all proved to be incorrect. If the estimations of Gen. Chowdhary were right, then where were the two lakh Razakars gone? Why didn’t they defend Hyderabad? How many of them laid their lives to protect the Asaf Jahi Dynasty? Further, what did the Nizam’s army did to protect the kingdom? It was only on 17th September that the Nizam ordered his army to surrender. So, what did the army do for three days since 13th September? Though there is no historical evidence, but the turn of events clearly show that the officers of Nizam’s army including its commander-in-chief Al-Idroos covertly supported the Indian Union and ensured that the ‘Operation Polo’ succeeds.

Hyderabad was annexed. Several thousand Muslims were brutally killed. More than the loss of power and wealth, the biggest loss for the community was the loss of dignity. But the Nizam, who should have got the maximum punishment for refusing to join the Indian Union which consequently led to military action, did not lose anything big, except for his thrown.

The Indian Union fulfilled almost all his demands — he was allowed to retain his jewellery, palaces, properties, employees and lifestyle. He was also made the Rajpramukh and he shamelessly he accepted the responsibility.

Meanwhile, Qasim Razvi was arrested immediately after the Indian Union captured Hyderabad. There were contradicting reports on how and where he was arrested. According to Gen. Chowdhary, Qasim Razvi was staying at a relative’s house. When the Indian Army officials went to arrest him, he threatened that he would commit suicide. After much persuation, he surrendered. But there is another popular story.

Qasim Razvi was in Darul-Salaam when reports started coming in from different parts that the Hyderabad State would be lost. He gathered everyone and addressed them, “Now it seems impossible to save Hyderabad. Therefore, save yourselve and take whatever you can from Darulsalaam.” His followers took these words as an order. They started taking away furniture and other items from the Majlis headquarters. Except for the chair on which Qasim Razvi was sitting, nothing was left in Darulsalaam. Qasim Razvi then said, “today Muslims themselves have looted Darul-Salaam.” He then waited for the Indian Army and was arrested a few hours later.

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