Friday, September 1, 2000

Nizam and the Radio

Nizam and the Radio
By Narendra Luther

Nizam VII was reputed to be the richest man of his time. However, his appearance and his style of living suggested the contrary. He was indifferent about his dress and appearance. It will surprise many to know that he did not have even a radio set.

After India became independent in August 1947, he did not join the new Union. Instead, he decided to become independent. That led to prolonged negotiations between him and the government of India. During the period, the Prime Minister of India, Nehru once made a broadcast about Hyderabad. It was proposed that the Nizam should listen to the broadcast. The director of the Hyderabad State Radio was asked to send a radio station to the Nizam’s palace, the ‘King Kothi’. When the Nizam heard Nehru’s voice, he asked where the speaker was sitting. He even looked at the back of the radio set to see whether Nehru was sitting inside the box. The director then explained to him how the speech was being transmitted from Delhi.

Police Action

Finally, the Police Action against Hyderabad was started on Monday, 13th September 1948. There was hardly any resistance from the Hyderabad forces. The Indian forces reached the outskirts of the city four days later.

On the noon of 17th September, a messenger brought a personal note from the Nizam to K.M.Munshi asking him whether he could see the Nizam at 4-00 p.m. He had not granted Munshi an interview since his appointment as India’s Agent General ten months ago.

Earlier, the Nizam had spent the morning in hectic consultations. His premier had seen him twice already. The Nizam had summoned him the previous day and asked for his resignation by the morning of the next day. The cabinet decided to resign forthwith.

Resignation of Laik Ali

As soon as Munshi entered the sitting room, the desolate ruler said: “The vultures have resigned. I don't know what to do”. He handed him the letter of resignation of Laik Ali, the Prime Minister. His hands were shaking. He had had this problem for some time, which became pronounced, when he was tense or angry.

Munshi had come to know about the resignation earlier from Laik Ali himself. He said that he was worried about the safety of the citizens. He suggested that General El Edroos should be asked to take steps to preserve law and order in the city.

Th Nizam sent for his commander-in-chief and told him accordingly

Nizam’s broadcast

Munshi also suggested that the Nizam might make a broadcast welcoming the Police Action and withdrawing his complaint to the Security Council.

“Broadcast! How is that done?” asked the Nizam innocently.

Munshi explained and offered to help draft the speech.

It was the Nizam's first visit to the Radio Station. No red carpet was spread for him; no formalities were observed. No music, no anthem was played before or after the broadcast. The speech was in English. Nobody bothered to translate it into Urdu.

After the broadcast the Nizam drove back to King Kothi to brood. Munshi on his way to Bolarum found the streets full of excited crowds shouting national slogans. Munshi was mobbed and had to address groups of people en route. They wanted to be told by India's official representative that they were now part of the great motherland.

That night the city changed a great deal. Many khaki uniforms were discarded, many beards shaved. The shouting, rampaging crowds of razakars disappeared magically. The citizens emerged from their cocoons. People of all ages came out in throngs waving the tricolour of India. Suddenly where there was fear and restraint, now there was life and laughter. There was a general release of tension and a new, quivering anticipation.

The surrender ceremony

The surrender ceremony was fixed at 4 p.m.

General Choudhuri spoke gravely: “I have been ordered by Lt. General Maharaj Rajendresinhji, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command to take the surrender of your army”.

“You have it”.
“You understand that this surrender is unconditional”.
“Yes, I understand”.

Choudhuri smiled and shook hands with Edroos. Then he opened his cigarette case and offered him a cigarette. Edroos proffered a lighter. Choudhuri's team joined them.

The party drove to the residence of India's Agent General. A jubilant crowd cheered the victorious general there. He waved in return and then sat down to discuss the details with Munshi, Edroos and others.

Enthusiastic crowds

Crowds had begun to gather at the corner of the Parade Ground in Secunderabad since morning to greet the Indian army.

It was a sea of humanity, heads, heads, heads, bare and covered. Men and women, ten deep, twenty deep, children on shoulders, on heads of adults, young people perched on the railings, on tree-tops, even on telephone poles. It was a riot of colours, dresses of all types in all the colours of rainbow, only deeper, like a field of flowers of different hues. And then tricolours, thousands of them, each hand holding one, even two, green, white and ochre, fluttering joyously. Flags made of cloth, and of paper quivered in the gentle breeze. They reflected the joy of the hands holding them. There was clapping and wild cheering, shouting and shrieking. People threw flowers at soldiers sitting on top of armoured cars and waving to crowds. Throngs of people shouting slogans, which could not be uttered, till the previous day.

‘Quami nara’ - a shrill, lone voice shouted. And the mob shouted back in unison, in loud abandon -- Jai Hind. This was taken up and repeated from different groups.

“Mahatma Gandhi” cried one voice -- “Ki Jai” responded the chorus.

‘Pandit Nehru’ ... ‘Zindabad’
‘Sardar Patel’ ... ‘Zindabad’
‘General Choudhuri’ ... ‘Zindabad’
‘Hindustani Fauj’ ... ‘Zindabad’
‘Bharat Mata’ ... ‘Ki Jai’

There was no order; no sequence but one slogan followed another without any interruption. Each time as a thousand throats shouted in unison flags went up. The din multiplied. Far in the distance some people were dancing. There was celebration everywhere. People had this brief spell to squander recklessly all their pent-up emotions of these past weeks when the flame of life had burnt low.

Then light began to fade. Vans were going up and down announcing the imposition of the curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. The crowds began to melt. They hurried to reach their houses in time. There would be celebrations there too.

Soon there was quiet everywhere. Silence and knowledge of security such that the city had not felt for the last many months overcame it. A feeling of peace wrapped it, like a snug coverlet. It too slid into asleep -- exhausted and relieved.

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Kishen Pershad --a multifaceted noble

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad -- 61

Kishen Pershad --a multifaceted noble
By Narendra Luther

One of the most colourful and powerful nobles of Hyderabad whose life spanned two centuries was Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad.

He traced his lineage to Raja Todar Mall, the revenue minister of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. His father was Hari Kishen who was a son-in-law of Raja Narender Bahadur, who in turn, was a grandson of Maharaja Chandulal. The latter was the hereditary Peshkar of Hyderabad and Prime Minister during 1832-1842. The Peshkar ranked next only to the Diwan - the Prime Minister.

Originally, named Purshottam Dass, the chronogram drawn up for Kishen Pershad was Farzand-e-Farkhunda (the fortunate son) which yielded the date of his birth -- 1280 Hijri (1864).

Early life

Due to his father's early death Kishen Pershad was brought up by Raja Narender Bahadur. He was taught various languages, and the martial arts. He knew Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Hindu, Gurumukhi, and English. His early life was spent in the company of the young Nizam VI and the sons of Salar Jung I. They were all educated together. The British Resident insisted that the pubescent Nizam VI should shift from Chow Mohalla complex because he did not want him to be in female company all the time. So he was lodged in the Purani Haveli. A high wall separated the bachelor's residence from the ladies' quarters in the Purani Haveli. Mehboob was allowed to spend a night in the ladies quarters once a week.

One evening Mehboob wanted to spend an extra night in the zenana. Special permission was required for that and the quarters were closely guarded. Mehboob asked Kishen Pershad to get hold of a ladder. That was placed against the wall adjoining the female quarters. Then Laik Ali, Salar Jung's son was asked to scale the wall and pull out one of the maids from the other side with a `rope’ made of a number of dupattas - head scarves.

The incident came to the notice of Salar Jung I. He sent a note to Raja Narender finding fault with Kishen Pershad for procuring the ladder. Kishen Pershad explained that he was duty-bound to carry out the orders of his ruler. Raja Narender agreed with the explanation given by his grandson and told Salar Jung that he would have done likewise in similar circumstances.

Prime Minister

In 1895, he was appointed Minister for Military Affairs and in 1900 he succeeded Vicar-ul-Umra as Prime Minister.

In 1911 Mir Osman Ali Khan became Nizam VII. He was led to believe that Kishen Pershad was one of those nobles who had petitioned to the Viceroy against his accession. On that suspicion the Nizam dismissed him. The signatures later proved to be a forgery.

His wit

He then travelled in India extensively. He learnt painting adding one more to his varied hobbies including playing on harmonium and sitar, and cooking. On a visit to Lahore, he developed a deep and abiding friendship with the famous poet Dr.Mohd. Iqbal. He himself wrote poetry in Persian and Urdu and sported the pen name of `Shad' (The Happy One). His palace became renowned for its mushaiaras (Urdu poetic gatherings) and the best poets of India recited their compositions there. His were the only poetic assemblies in which the poems composed by the Nizam could be recited. Kishen Pershad used to receive the poems by touching them with his forehead eyes and then give it to the messenger for recitation. Every line in it was so vociferously lauded as if the poet himself was present. People still remember the elaborate ritual and grand scale of those events. One of the poets in his mushairas used to be Abid Ali `Begum'. He dressed wrote and recited as if he was woman. He thus provided a humorous touch to the proceedings. In one mushaira he read a couplet in which he expressed gratitude to his patron Maharaja Kishen Pershad who had granted him a monthly stipend. Using a double entendre, he said, "Thanks to the Maharaja, I still get my monthly.” The Maharaja retorted: "Strange, I have grown old but you still get your monthlies."

Patronage of letters

Kishen Pershad also wrote prose, travelogues and authored over 60 books and pamphlets. Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung, who served, as his secretary believed that charity was his most outstanding virtue. According to Mohd bin Ali Bawahb, his daily charities, and alms giving amounted to 300 rupees. Whenever he travelled, he used to keep two bagfuls of coins in his car from which he threw handfuls with both hands to crowds of poor people who would chase his car. It is said that he never looked at the eyes of the person whom he was giving charity so as not to embarrass him.
Second term

In 1927 he was again called upon to become Prime Minister and he stayed in that job for 9 years.
Kishen Pershad was courteous and generous to a fault. He used to refer to himself as a fakir i.e. a person of no means. Given his lifestyle, his unbounded generosity, and the neglect of his estate, he ended up in debt.


Kishen Pershad was very secular in his outlook and this was manifested in very interested manner. He married three Hindu and four Muslim women and sired 30 children from them. Quite a few of them died during his lifetime. The children born of Muslim wives were given Muslim names, brought up as Muslims and married to Muslim spouses while those born of Hindu wives similarly continued to be Hindus. This is perhaps the only example of a personage’s children following the faith not of the father but of the mother. In his will, however, he advised, the practice of monogamy.

The Maharaja was given the title of Yamin-ul-sultanat (the 'right hand of the ruler') by the Nizam and those of KCIE and GCIE by the British.

Shad Nagar town in the Mehboob Nagar district is named after his pen name.

He enjoyed equal popularity amongst all the communities. Many people often said that he was a Muslim while others maintained that he was a Hindu. His responded with a couplet:

Mai hoon Hindu, main hoon Musalmaan, har mazhab hai mera imaan
`Shad' ka mazhab `Shad' hee jaane Azaadi azad he jaane.

(I am a Hindu, I am a Muslim, and all religions are mine
Only Shad knows his religion, just as only the Free know freedom)

He died in 1940 at the age of 76. His palace, `Shad Mansion’ saw great glory. Some time ago, two lions at the gate were all that was left of it. Recently some of us tried in vain to locate even those traces.

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