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The Nizam in 1948: his last days in power
Gandhi is an old fool and his character is doubtful: Nizam
Josy Joseph | TNN
The Times of India 2013/08/02
New Delhi: Asetof newly declassified files regarding the liberation of Hyderabad in 1948 provides interesting insights into the recent history of Andhra Pradesh, its unification, the end of the Nizam’s rule and the faultlines that have contributed further to thecreation of Telangana.
Several secret coded telegrams sent by the Nizam of Hyderabad over the tense monthsof 1947-48, after hehaddeclaredhis intention nottojoin India andPakistan, also provide insights into his bitterness and his plan to hire a European prime minister for Hyderabad. The standoff finally ended after India launched Operation Polo to liberate Hyderabad in September, 1948.
“Gandhi has started his fast with the intention of unifying the Muslims but he is an old fool and his character is doubtful,” the Nizam says in one of his several telegrams to his legal advisor Sir Walter Monckton, who played a key role in the Nizam’s negotiations with Lord Mountbatten after Hyderabad declared its intention to remain independent.
In another telegram, the Nizam tells Monckton to find a European prime minister for Hyderabad, so as to further firm up his declared independence, which was being opposed by the communists, the Congres and the Indian state. “Try for dominion status for Hyderabad within the Commonwealth. Try to get a European prime minister,” according to the Nizam’s telegram to Monckton.
According to a note of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), these telegrams were sent by the Nizam to Monckton “in code,” after the arrival of K M Munshi as India’s agent general in Hyderabad and Mahatma Gandhi’s fast.
The telegrams show that the Nizam was heavily dependent on Monckton to advise him through the crisis. “Come early, the condition in the state is worsening day by day. India government is trying to strangle Hyderabad and is giving all kinds of difficulties. She is encouraging border incidents. These rascals are unnecessarily creating trouble regarding the Rs 20 crore loan to Pakistan. There was nothing wrong in transferring the Indian securities into Pakistan securities. Hyderabad is prepared for the worst. Give also this information to the authorities in England. Come early,” the Nizam wires Monckton.
In another telegram, the Nizam tells his advisor that Mountbatten is likely to come to Hyderabad and force it to accedeto the Indian Union. “If he comes here with that intention, the condition here will worsen as the people would not like that. I have already declared my independence and I am not ready to rescind from that position and accede, whatever may happen. My people are also with me,” the Nizam says. And then again appeals to Monckton to come early because Mountbatten was expected to visit in February, 1948.
The Nizam also reveals in one of his telegramsthatthe‘Stand StillAgreement’ signed on November 29, 1947 with India was only to “mark time”.
Also among the declassified documents are many other intelligence reports thatbring outthedeep suspicion thatIndian agencies had of British officers of the Indian Army. One assessment says they are mostly “pro-Muslim and are creating as much trouble as they can before they quit India next year”, and they must be sent back at the earliest.
This particular report — put up by V P Menon for the perusal of Mountbatten — alsotalksof the needto removetheBritish brigadier posted in Secunderabad. Among the intelligence reports are also several inputs about the irregular fighters, communists, movement of foreign journalists and others.
As tensions further mounted, in August 1948, the agent general was told in a detailed secret report that “aerial gun running is still going on between Karachi and Hyderabad. The planes are mostly landing at Warangal and occasionally at Bidar.Incidentshavebeen reportedof two and even three planes arriving the same day. It is through these planes that emissaries of Hyderabad travel to Pakistan and the places abroad”.
On September 18, 1948, Major General Syed Ahmed El Edroos, the commanderin-chief of the Hyderabad State Forces, surrenderedhis armytoIndian troopsunder Major General J N Choudhuri, who later became the Army chief. Hyderabad became an independent state between 1948 and 1956, and then it was split up among Andhra Pradesh, Bombay — later divided into Gujarat and Maharashtra — and Karnataka.
A vanishing culture
Past And Present
By Asif Noorani, Dawn
Way back in 1954 when I greeted a grand old lady, who had migrated to Karachi from what used to be Hyderabad Deccan, with the customary Assalam Alaikum, I was admonished for my ‘bad manners’. She reminded me that I was not her age, which was why I was supposed to say Aadab and bend my neck slightly.
That was the Hyderabadi tehzeeb (a combination of good manners and courtesies). A recently published collection of writings Hyderabad: An Untold Charminar, imaginatively compiled and intelligently edited by Syeda Imam, has much more to say on the subject. The old-worldly charm in Hyderabad co-exists with the great strides that the city has taken in becoming a high profile IT city, which is why it has been nicknamed Cyberabad.
It’s a city that attracts technocrats from all over India, but then that’s nothing new for in the glorious days of the Nizam, Men of letters and those who could boast of accomplishments in other cultural fields were attracted by the monarch, who enjoyed more power and riches than any other head of a princely state in British India.
Those who settled down in Hyderabad were amply rewarded in terms of respect and material gains alike. Not all of them returned to their native cities. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Urdu poets. Dagh, Fani, Ameer Minai and Josh which are just four names that come to this reviewer’s mind.
One cannot help recall the exciting piece on the mushairas by the bilingual Isaac Sequeira. While the popularity of these engrossing and interactive poetry concerts, very different from the ones held in any other language, has continued unabated in Hyderabad, here in Pakistan mushairas have become extinct. Sequeira claims that even the semi-literate enjoy the poetry sessions in much the same way as the English speaking opera-buffs love the opera, which has Italian or German.
Urdu and other languages
Hyderabad’s Osmania University had a well equipped, in terms of men and material, bureau of translation and compilation, which coined suitable scientific and socio-political terms in Urdu. It was also, until the birth of Pakistan, the only university to have Urdu as a medium of instruction even up to post-graduation level, which was not to mean that Telegu, the language of the majority outside the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad was neglected.
In fact Dakhani, the local dialect of Urdu, was a mixture of Marathi, Telegu and Arabic. So, when a Hyderabadi speaks the language in a typical sing-song manner the Urdu speakers from the north can be sure that they will hear some unfamiliar words.
The volume under review informs its readers that Quli Qutub Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, composed 50,000 lines in Telegu, Dakhini and Urdu (‘when the language had not even acquired the name’). That was sometime near the end of the 16th century and in the beginning of the 17th.
Hyderabadi cuisine, as discussed in much detail by Zuju Shareef, titillates the taste buds of Hyderabadis and non-Hyderabadis alike. Hyderabad Colony in Karachi, particularly during Ramazan, shows a glimpse of the culinary variety that is the hallmark of what was once the largest princely state in the subcontinent, until it was invaded by the Indian army on September 12, 1948 and not September 13, as Shyam Benegal writes in his otherwise fine piece.
Benegal also wrongly states the day Mr Jinnah passed away — instead of 11th, he writes 13th. In fact the Indians chose to catch the Hyderabadis unaware, which was why they sent their army a day after the Muslim leader died.
________________________________________ The diversity in Hyderabad of cultures, cuisine, languages and religions was rare and continues to be so. It is in this context that you enjoy reading the write-up on the Parsis by Yezdyar S. Kaosji about this miniscule community.
But then not everyone would sympathise with the Nizams for they had ganged up with the colonial power against the freedom fighters Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. They were more than amply rewarded by the East India Company for what would seem to most of us an act of treachery.
The diversity in Hyderabad of cultures, cuisine, languages and religions was rare and continues to be so. It is in this context that you enjoy reading the write-up on the Parsis by Yezdyar S. Kaosji about this miniscule community. Though only 0.08 per cent (1224 in absolute terms), the Parsis have left indelible marks in different fields.
In another riveting piece, Javeed Alam makes two observations, the vanishing of cycle rickshaws, which have been largely replaced by motorised three-wheelers, and the greater numbers of burqas that one gets to see in the city which has something like one-third Muslims. The writer says quite convincingly that it is indicative of the fact that more and more Muslim women are now leaving the confines of their homes. ‘20 years ago not many lower-middle-class Muslim women were educated or employed. They rarely stepped out of their homes or beyond the circles of relatives... What we see as the increase in the visibility of the burqa are these women out in the public sphere, educating themselves and working in sectors of the economy which were completely hidden from their view two decades ago,’ claims Alam.
Ismat Mehdi profiles some great people who have played important roles in the development of Hyderabad, starting from its founder Quli Qutub Shah to the Nightingale of the East, Sarojini Naidu. The write-up tells us as much about these eminent people as it throws light on the state in their periods.
An excerpt — Mian Captain Banoge — from Harsha Bhogle’s book on the son of the Hyderabadi soil, the great Test cricketer Azharuddin shows some endearing traits of the man who played
99 Tests for his country. The most notable being his modesty.
Anees Jung, on the other hand, writes about a Hyderabadi whose popularity was restricted to the city and whose pickles were the rage of the day. She almost chronicles his life and shows how people-to-people contact cuts across religious boundaries. An eminent Hyderabadi poet Shaz Tamkanat had composed a few lines on the plight of Ramlu when he became blind and deaf. These are included in Jung’s piece.
While on poems, the volume carries translations of the best known Urdu poet from Hyderabad, Makhdoom Mohiuddin and also some scintillating verses of Sarojini Naidu, whose letters have also been reproduced.
Syeda Imam also includes a translation of a Wajda Tabassum’s early short story Utran. Sadly, the Hyderabadi writer did not live up to her earlier promise. In her attempt to be bold like Ismat Chughtai, she ended up writing stories which sometimes bordered on soft core pornography. Jeelani Bano would have been a better choice.
Syed Sirajuddin in his excellent piece, For Better and for Verse, discusses the development of Urdu in Hyderabad and quotes profusely from eminent and not so well known poets. One person we Pakistanis don’t seem to know hardly anything about is Maharaja Kishen Pershad. He was ‘many things in the Hyderabadi literary world, a patron and practitioner, who represented the confluence of Muslim and Hindu, aristocrat and dervish… A prolific writer, he produced some 60 books and held court in a literary salon where even the great poet Iqbal came…’
Due to constraints of space, one cannot comment on all the pieces that appear in the volume, but Omkar Goswami’s narration about the recent changes occurring in Hyderabad, thanks largely to the untiring efforts of Chandrababu Naidu, makes compulsory reading.
How the man attracted foreign investment, got grants from New Delhi, forced people to work hard and made the city shed its grime is worth knowing about. Hyderabad is now more prosperous than it was before Naidu appeared on the scene. The city is ‘inundated with shopping malls’ and thanks to its people’s prosperity the plazas are choc a bloc with buyers.
It’s heartening to see that Hyderabad is once again in the limelight.
________________________________________ The Untold Charminar By Syeda Imam Penguin books, India Available with Paramount Books, Karachi ISBN 978-0-143-10370-7 335pp. Rs798
April 20, 2015
Amarnath K. Menon, April 9, 2015
Sibling rivalry between ageing royal scions threatens closure of Hyderabad museum housing dazzling artefacts of the Nizams
Climb the stairway to the eastern wing of the Purani Haveli in old Hyderabad and you are immediately transported to the opulence and grandeur of the princely state's past as you enter the central aisle of the 240-feet-long teak wardrobe of Mir Osman Ali Khan (1886-1967), the last Nizam of Hyderabad. The two-tiered wardrobe-said to be the world's longest-houses not only royal clothes, shoes and perfumes but also one of the most fascinating collections of the Asaf Jah dynasty.
It may not be here for long though. Come August, the HEH (His Exalted Highness) Nizam's Museum is to be shut. Its promoters, the Nizam's Jubilee Pavilion Trust, steered by Muffakham Jah, the second grandson of the Nizam, have been asked to vacate the hallowed haveli by the owners, Mukarram Jah Trust for Education and Learning (MJTEL), which is controlled by his elder brother, Mukarram Jah. A royal battle is on over the continuance of the museum showcasing the royal relics of the line of seven Nizams who flourished in the Deccan between 1724 and 1948.
The senior Jah, 81, named as the successor-in-title and principal heir to his fabulous wealth by the last Nizam, is revered and referred to by his retainers as "Nizam" or "sarkar" and his brother, 76, addressed as "Prince", are fighting it out legally in benign tenant-owner tradition by invoking the rent control and other laws. MJTEL is not interested in the money even if the rent-Rs 3,000 a month-is increased several times over. Mukarram's retainers are eager to have the space back as they want to expand a junior college for boys run by MJTEL in the Purani Haveli itself. "We have a public purpose and, therefore, we need it as the 15-year-old lease draws to a close," says MJTEL's lawyer M. Vidyasagar.
History buffs and heritage activists are not impressed, for they want the old-world charm of the Purani Haveli, built by Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah II in 1780, to be conserved in a manner that reflects the life and times of the Nizams. It is with this forethought that the low-profile Muffakham turned the Purani Haveli, the birthplace of three of the Nizams, into a museum and lifted the veil to showcase the glory of the Asaf Jah lineage and what they did for the princely state.
The core of the museum, which opened on February 18, 2000, is a rich collection of gifts and souvenirs presented to Osman Ali Khan-believed then to be among the world's wealthiest men-in 1937 on the occasion of the silver jubilee of his coronation. It includes a 165-year-old lift, specially brought from England, which operates manually using pulleys and ropes.
Osman Ali Khan, whose unqualified support to the British Raj was even inscribed on his gold-plated throne now kept in the museum, became a ruler when he was 25. He brooked no opposition to his style of governance and was known for his miserly ways but some of his initiatives such as compulsory primary education and free school education did endear him to the people at large. He also founded the Osmania University in 1918 with Urdu as the medium of instruction and set apart 11 per cent of the state budget for education.
The royal scions have stayed away from public life but made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Mukarram, the heir apparent, became known mainly for mismanaging the estates and wealth he inherited. "Many betrayed the trust I reposed in them and turned things upside down like goondas," he told this writer in a rare interview while on a visit to Hyderabad in 1991 with his newly married wife, his third, Manolya Onur, a former Miss Turkey. His preoccupation with his subsequent financial problems and property disputes led to the magnificent palaces go to seed due to a lack of funds and care. "Many have sold artefacts and even property by promising to manage it and are all having a ball except Sahib himself," says a Mukarram acolyte.
The extraordinary exhibits at the Nizam's Museum include articles in gold and silver, studded with pearls, rubies, diamonds and emeralds, exquisite pieces in jade, ivory, crystal, chinaware and porcelain, the famous Bidriware from the Bidar region of modern-day Karnataka, silver filigree work, rare manuscripts and art works, swords and daggers. Also on display is a silver casket presented to Princess Durru Shehvar, the eldest daughter-in-law of the last Nizam and the mother of the sparring Jah brothers, when the foundation stone for the Hyderabad Airport at Begumpet was laid on November 4, 1936.
Other artefacts include gold and silver replicas of prominent buildings of the state which are displayed in rooms adjacent to the wardrobe. "The quality of artistic creativity and aesthetic power is outstanding. More portable treasures are in the store and we can display them if we get a larger area than we have here or elsewhere," says the museum's chief curator, D. Bhaskar Rao, of the unique remnants of a golden age.
Muffakham put together the large collection for display by taking the space on lease so as to house it alongside the legendary wardrobe that would serve as a special attraction."What we have tried to do is to capture the spirit of my grandfather's times and cherish the dynasty's achievements. It stands as a symbol of love and affection and respect and regard enjoyed by the Nizams," he had said when the museum was opened to the public 15 years ago.
Muffakham's aim is to remind the present generation of the contribution made by the Nizams towards the growth and development of the old Hyderabad state but several interpretations and subaltern history accounts portray the Nizams in poor light. So do court observations such as that by a two-judge bench of the Hyderabad High Court which on March 26 rebuked the arbitrariness of the Special Officer of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Somesh Kumar, an IAS officer, in cutting off water and power supply of property tax defaulters, accusing him of "behaving like a monarch as if he is the Nizam of Hyderabad".
Misunderstood and often misinterpreted for Hyderabad's role at the time of Independence-it was among the last of the princely states to join the Indian Union-and peeved by such references not just by the court but even politicians and other worthies, the Jah brothers have become recluses, opting to stay in Turkey or Britain unlike most other ex-royals in inde-pendent India.
The Nizam's Museum has attempted to balance it out by presenting the positive side of the dynasty with replicas of the monumental public utilities that the rulers had built and developed in the Deccan. With Mukarram backers and MJTEL determined to force out the museum, Muffakham is uncertain about where to move the collection for want of a heritage property. Both Muffakham, who spends his time at his homes in Hyderabad, London and Istanbul, and Princess Esra, the first wife of Mukarram who lives in a two-storey family-owned island home off Istanbul and spends a couple of months every year in Hyderabad, have strived to clear the misconceptions with some success although the two do not see eye to eye on many issues. She has singlehandedly spearheaded the widely applauded restoration of the Chowmahalla Palace in the old city, near the Charminar. The Falaknuma Palace, transformed through a makeover she masterminded, is now a leading Indian palace hotel run by the Taj Group of Hotels.
Yet, the task of presenting the unique culture the Nizams had created over generations is an unfinished one. Their heirs as well as successive state chief ministers have failed to put their best foot forward in bringing the fabulous collection of 37 pieces of Nizams' jewels-stashed away in a vault by the Reserve Bank of India in Delhi-to Hyderabad to be kept in an exclusive museum. The central government acquired the priceless jewels for Rs 218 crore in 1995 after stalling attempts of the Jah brothers and other beneficiaries of the Nizam's Jewellery Trust to sell it abroad. Like the exhibits at the museum in Purani Haveli, the jewels are integral to the tradition of Hyderabad and the Nizams. But with Mukarram and Muffakham having crossed swords, both heritage museums- Nizam's Museum and the proposed Nizam's Jewellery Museum-are likely to remain under veils of mistrust for a long time.
Qutb Shahi Heritage Park
India Today, August 3, 2015
Amarnath K. Menon
Situated at the foot of the majestic Golconda Fort, the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, that has 72 monuments including mausoleums spread over 108 acres, has been a victim of monumental neglect.
Over the years, every Eid, the 16th century monument would be painted white, green and pink, covering the intricate stucco plaster patterns. This time, the team removed some 30 layers of garish paint to restore the Idgah to its past glory. Yet, this effort is just a small part of Nanda's mission that brings him regularly to what is the largest necropolis in the world. Although situated at the foot of the majestic Golconda Fort, the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, that has 72 monuments including mausoleums spread over 108 acres, has been a victim of monumental neglect. After Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has undertaken the restoration initiative and the daunting project has to be completed by 2023. While Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for the restoration project, AKTC will invest whatever it costs.
Held in veneration since the heyday of Qutb Shahi rule (1518-1687 AD), the necropolis is the only surviving complex of this nature where architectural styles used during the span of an entire dynasty of significance are found in one ensemble. "No other ensemble of structures in the Deccani kingdoms of Ahmednagar, Berar, Bidar, Bijapur or Gulbarga includes as many monuments of striking grandeur and complexity reflecting a unique synthesis of architectural styles," emphasises Nanda. "Our work at the heritage park is aimed at ensuring long-term preservation of these 72 monuments within the complex." Master craftsmen who specialise in lime plaster are using traditional materials, architectural crafts and tools to undo the damage done over years. In the tomb of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth sultan of the dynasty and the founder of Hyderabad, sophisticated techniques are being used to address particular structural challenges with the design. Surfaces of the historic buildings are ornamented with intricate incised plaster work and a few monuments also bear glazed tile work. Although the Qutb Shahi sultans encouraged the development of Indo-Persian and Indo-Islamic literature and culture to make it Hyderabad's real source of pride, latter-day neglect and inadequate maintenance turned it into a site of dereliction and decay. Common problems include root damage by vegetation growth and changes to the falls at roof level which have compromised the drainage of rainwater. The blackened surfaces of the monuments and the tombs crying for attention with plants growing through the cracks in the domes are evidence of the arduous task ahead. Nanda admits that what began in 2013, after crossing hurdles posed by potential land encroachers, has steadily evolved as a gigantic job egged on by the fact that the site is already on the tentative list for the World Heritage tag. The AKTC team is steadily growing and is equal to the task at hand. They have rebuilt the entire wall of the Badi Baoli, restored a large portion of the tombs. Conservation work is being carried out in a phased manner to ensure some portions of the historic site are accessible to visitors at any given time. The AKTC has even sent samples of glazed tiles for testing to the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art at Oxford University to understand the tile composition.
Restorers have had to remove the later interventions on the historic structures which have compromised the form, architectural and artistic details and caused structural damage. "Removal of such interventions is followed by consolidation, partial restoration and integration of various elements based on archival records," says Gamini S. Wijesuriya, project manager, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Rome, an inter-governmental organisation created by Unesco. Wijesuriya has reviewed the ongoing work. What is significant is that no chemicals are being used for restoration. Conservation works will rely on the revival of traditional building crafts with stone carving, masonry and stucco plaster in lime mortar being the mainstay. The centralised monitoring of lime mortar production has assured the quality of mortar in the restoration work done by skilled craftsmen brought from Rajasthan and Gujarat. Archaeological excavations are also underway at the site that is a must on the itinerary of visitors to the city. Extensive water features-aqueducts, baths fed with terracotta pipes-have also come to light. "In archival photographs of 1860, it was evident that there was a processional pathway connecting the Golconda Fort with the tomb complex. We have excavated and exposed the pathway," says the Project Archaeological Director K.K. Muhammed. Internationally renowned heritage conservation experts are impressed by what the AKTC has done so far. "The site activities such as field investigation, documentation and the decision-making process in restoration are cogent. But it is necessary to establish a balance between the restoration of the monuments and the site during relevant phases of activity," says Mohammad Hassan Talebian, director, World Heritage division of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. For all that to happen, the AKTC and other state government agencies have to work hand in hand to remove encroachments, relocate illegal squatters and persuade local Muslim groups to cooperate in the maintenance of the heritage park and its environs. Funds for the project work are no worry with the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust pledging Rs 12 crore and the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Renewal giving a grant of $100,000. The Telangana government, which has requested the Aga Khan Development Network to enhance its presence, is offering to help remove any irritants or hurdles in conservation and landscape restoration. "The heritage park and the Golconda Fort are key elements in the heritage of Hyderabad and in its evolution and growth as a global city with a rich cultural past," says B.P. Acharya, principal secretary, tourism and culture, Telangana. Besides the grandeur, the heritage park has the potential to improve quality of life while attracting economic opportunities for Hyderabad.