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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Janet Bishop said...

I am trying to find information about my great uncle Fred Harris Rowan who was shot in Bihar on 16th September 1948 during Operation Polo. He worked as a ground engineer for Sidney Cotton, who was supplying the Nizam with arms from Pakistan. Fred had been imprisoned by the Hyderabad State Army. I have Fred's hand written death certificate. Does anyone know anything about Fred Rowan's death, or about anyone else who worked for Sidney Cotton who was imprisoned at the same time?

Jagan said...


The place was Bidar. I recommend that you procure the book "Aviation in the Hyderabad Dominions" by Mrs. P Anuradha Reddy. I clearly remember reading various news clippings that talk about the murder of the gentleman. I dont remember hte name but I believe the reports talked about him as a westerner helping Sidney Cotton. The book IIRC has three to four reports about the same

riyaz said...

I find it difficult to read and accept such stories which are copied from wikipedia and pasted on the blogs..anyways people forget that a genuine and learned men like the historian.,should atleast provide references ..or may b he was infront of Nizam when he asked if nehru was at the backside of radio..c'mon.. u can do better than this dude..!!!

billy said...

why are pseudo writers like permitted to cut copy paste and post, you are example of complete intellectual bankruptcy

Radha-Krishna Balla said...

riyaz and billy.. even the various wikipedia articles are written by some person(s).. they didn't just drop from sky. and i won't be surprised if some of the contents of the Operation Polo wiki ( came from this blog post.. which was written way before the actual wiki.
Please take some time to think before you speak. Thanks.

A said...

mail me at to get a copy of my book mentioned by Jagan,gives all the details from News reports of the day

HinduYuva said...

Lol! Mian log...the hog Nizam had no time to know of Radio...he had thousands of babes for his recreation...Ram Koti has a number of his babes baby' was trembling , what does he remember...anyways..he is gone but Razakars are still Around! Indian Hindu Democracy has place for its killers too.

Janet Bishop said...

All these comments are interesting, but no-one has been able to tell me anything about my great uncle, Fred harris Rowan. I am still asking the same question, as I am trying to make sense of this area of my family history. Thanks

Jagan said...

As mentioned here

Get that book - it sheds lot of light on the incident


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Es Bee said...

Mr. Narender Luther of Punjab makes money on writing on Hyderabad and demeaning it. He only sees filth in Hyderabad and its history and the benevolent rulers. It is a shame you are neither a Hyderabadi nor a lover of Hyderabad and live in Hyderabad. You write to malign Hyderabad, Nizam, the Royal family and make cheap bucks out of it. Your source of information is the maid servants as all know.

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Unknown said...

As far as I know, the Nizam very much wanted to have a peaceful annexation, as he knew of the end result, that would be the military action by India.

But the Nizam had been rendered helpless by the chaotic crowd of razakars.

Prior to Police action one satesman and lawyer from Hyderabad, had negotiated an agreement with the Government of India, to retain the status quo for a longer period, which included giving more say to the majority community in politics, jobs, education etc.

The Nizam was all for it, but the razakars were stupid enough to reject this deal.

It is also said that, when it became very evident that the military action is imminent,Nizam made a deal with the government of India that the Hyderabad Army would not resist, so as to minimize the violence and damage and carnage.

The stray instances of resistance by the Hyderabadi Army were by the local officers who were carried away by their dedication to duty.

The main resistance was by the hotch potch crowd of zealot razakars, who were brain washed at confronting the armored vehicles and tanks with swords and sticks.

The carnage could have been avoided, but its history now.

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