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.
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
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.
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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