Thursday, August 7, 2014

Operation Polo – Military Operation

The code name of the Hyderabad Police Action, `Operation Polo’, was a military operation on 17th September, 1948, which was a black day in human history. It was a day when the Indian Armed Forces invaded the State of Hyderabad and occupied the Hyderabad State through military force, known as `Police Action’, originally known as `Operation Polo’and overthrew its Nizam, annexing the state into Indian Union. The conflict started after Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII refrained from joining the princely State of Hyderabad to either of the states of India and Pakistan after the partition of India.The defiance for Nizam were backed by Qasim Razvi’s armed militias which were known as Razakars with moral support of Pakistan.Reaching a stalemate position in negotiations between the Nizam and India, there arose mass killing and rape of the Hindu population by the Razakars creating a lot of hostility in the independent state in the centre of India. Sardar Patel, Deputy Prime Minister, then decided to annex the state of Hyderabad and send the Indian army and defeated the Hyderabad State Forces within five days.

British Offered Three Options 

The State of Hyderabad which is located over the Deccan Plateau is in southern India and was established in 1724 by Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah after the fall of the Mughal Indian Empire. The Nizam was a Muslim, which was the case in several Indian royal states, but the majority of the subject population were Hindus and Hyderabad became the first Indian royal state in 1798, to accede to British protection under the Subsidiary Alliance policy which was instituted by Arthur Wellesley. The British, when they finally departed from India in the year 1947, offered the different princely states in the sub-continent with three options, one to merge into Indian Union, or to remain independent or to merge into newly formed Pakistan. The Indian government wanted the Hyderabad State to be merged into Indian union since it was placed between the North and South regions and if the Indian Union would want to rule over the southern region, it wouldbe impossible and hence they wanted to occupy the Hyderabad state in order to include the north as well as the south regions and rule over it.

Decision to Keep Hyderabad Independent 

Nizam, however decided to keep Hyderabad independent and the leaders of the new Union of India were displeased in having an independent state in the heart of their new country and were determined to acquire Hyderabad into the Indian Union even if they were compelled to do so, which was unlike the other 565 princely states which had already acceded voluntarily to India and Pakistan. Under the leadership of the 7th Nizam, Mir Usman Ali, the State of Hyderabad became the most prosperous and the largest of all the princely states in India covering an area of 82,698 square miles, of fairly homogenous territory with a population of around 16.34 million according to the 1941 census, out of which a majority of 85% were Hindus. The State of Hyderabad had its own airline, telecommunication system, army, postal system, railway network, together with currency and radio broadcasting service.On the pretext of subduing communist movement which had spread in the four districts of Hyderabad State, the Indian union in the year 1948 attacked the state and overthrew the Nizam rule which was the Muslim rule and though the police action was intended to occupy Hyderabad state, it was actually due to the police action that the Muslims were killed in very large numbers.

Ulcer in the Heart of India/To Be Removed Surgically 

As the Indian government got the information about Hyderabad arming itself and preparing to take support from Pakistan in any forthcoming war against India, Sardar Patel described the idea as an ulcer in the heart of India, of an independent Hyderabad which needed to be removed surgically. Responding to this remark, Hyderabad’s Prime Minister, Laik Ali commented stating, `India thinks that if Pakistan attacks its country, Hyderabad will stab her in the back and that he was not sure whether he would not do so. This brought about a retaliating comment from Sardar Patel saying that if threaten with violence, swords will be met with swords. Militia leader, Qasim Razvi, Hyderabad, told the supporters of Razakars that death with the sword in hand is preferable to extinction by a mere stroke of the pen and was later described as `the Nizam’s Franskenstein Monster by the Indian government officials. Razvi, in response to reports that India had plans to invade Hyderabad, further stated that if India attacks he would create turmoil throughout India and while they perish, India would be perishing too. According to Time magazine it was stated that if India would invade Hyderabad, the Razakars would massacre Hindus and this would lead to retaliatory massacres of Muslims all across India.

Arya Samaj/Hindu Fundamentalist/Indian Military- Responsible for the Killing

According to official estimate by the Sundarlal Committee appointed by the government of India, around one lakh Muslims were killed by the Indian army and the unofficial estimate was over two lakh Muslims that were killed. The Arya Samaj together with the other Hindu fundamentalist organizations with the Indian military, were responsible for the killing of the Muslims and 17th September became the day of genocide and not liberation day, the after effect of which is felt even in present times.

It was beyond the imagination of the Nizam of Hyderabad State to witness this type of a massacre, since he always considered the Hindus and Muslims as his two eyes and the way the people of the state were targeted due to the Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan’s innocence together with the lack of understanding was very shocking to him and all his dreams laid shattered before his very eyes and he was not in a position to set anything right in the face of this turmoil.

The Goddard Plan 

The Indian army on receiving instruction from the government to capture and annexe Hyderabad code named Operation Polo, came up with the Goddard Plan which was laid out by Lt. Gen. E. N. Goddard, the Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Command. The plan indicated two main thrust, one from Vijayawada in the East and Sholapur in the West with smaller units in the Hyderabadi army all along the border. The entire command was placed in the hands of Lt. Gen Rajendrasinghji, DSO.Sholapur attack was led by Major Gen. J. N. Chaudharicomprising of four task forces namely Strike Force, Smash Force, Kill Force and Vir Force, while the attack from Vijayawada was led by Major Gen. A. A. Rudraand comprised of 2/5 Gurka Rifles, one squadron of the 17th Poona Horse, with troop from the 19th Field Battery, together with engineering and ancillary units. Besides this, there were 4 infantry battalions to neutralize and protect line of communication with two squadrons of Hawker Tempest aircraft for air support from the Pune base.

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