Pandit Nehru was confused about military action amid the deteriorating situation in Hyderabad, but the Nizam’s treachery was enough for Sardar Patel to take firm and decisive action. The countdown to the Nizam began with Mountbatten leaving India on 21 June and the ailing Patel returning to Delhi from Dehradun on 5 July. The Prime Minister of the princely state, Laiq Ahmed, accused India of a complete economic blockade of Hyderabad.
Repeatedly complained of infiltration into the borders of Hyderabad by Indian soldiers. Patel was firm on his firm stand. Pandit Nehru remembered the assurance given to Mountbatten. He was deferring action. But Rajaji, the cabinet and the governor general, was with Patel. Nehru wrote to Mountbatten about his loneliness, “Many people here are not trusting me at all.” (Letter dated 29.8.48 – Jawaharlal Nehru – S Gopal-(2), pp.41-2) .
Nehru agreed after initial hesitation
After initial hesitation, Nehru also agreed to take decisive action. He asked Rajaji to write to the Nizam to ban the Razakars and send a letter to call the Indian Army to control the situation there. The Nizam replied on 5 September that the question of calling the Indian Army did not arise and that the demand for a ban on Razakars was impractical. The cabinet meeting of September 8 was enthusiastic. There was pressure from the Home Ministry to capture Hyderabad and end the chaos there. Nehru strongly opposed it. He sharply criticized the attitude of the Home Ministry. An angry Sardar Patel left the meeting midway and went out. In the same afternoon the Governor General Rajaji called another meeting. Nehru and Patel were involved in this. In this meeting the decision to annex Hyderabad was taken. (Outline of Constitutional History- Menon-74)
Patel was not ready to bow the national flag in mourning of Jinnah’s death
The next day the Defense Committee of the Cabinet, in consultation with Lieutenant General Rajendersinhji of the Southern Command, fixed September 13 as the date of entry into Hyderabad. Nevertheless, on September 10, a telegram of last warning was sent to the Nizam. The next day from there the Agent General of India, K.M. Munshi gave information about Nizam’s fraudulent reply. Patel jokingly said, “Abhi tara ka yuddha!” Muhammad Ali Jinnah died on the night of 11 September. It was reported in India the next morning. As the Home Minister, it was for Patel to decide to bow the flag in mourning. Bengal Chief Minister Bidhan Chand Rai sought information from Patel. Patel’s reply was, “Why? Was he your relative?” After much persuasion by the defence, home secretary and Menon, Patel reluctantly agreed to it.
Patel served the purpose by delaying sending the telegram
The war was near. But the exchange of wires was going on apart from that. In response to a fresh message from the Nizam, Patel wanted that only a two-line reply should be sent from the Governor General’s side. It was, “Facts cannot be changed by repeated denials. Other than that I have nothing to say.” Rajaji and Nehru wanted to express the intention of peace behind sending the soldiers through a large mass. Patel was not ready for this. He sent Defense Secretary HM Patel and VP Menon to Rajaji at ten o’clock in the night. For the next three hours the brainstorming continued for Majmoon. The next morning Rajaji also complained to Patel. Patel’s purpose had been accomplished by delaying the telegram. He did not want to give any chance to the Nizam to strike again before the army entered Hyderabad.
Operation Polo; Threats of danger ignored
The army named it “Operation Polo”. The campaign started in the morning of 13 September 1948. General Butcher tried to stop it by calling Defense Secretary HM Patel at 3 am citing credible reports. It was informed that there are some big ships near Hyderabad, which can be bombers. The army should not move forward till the confirmation of the information is received. The advice was sidelined. It was directed by Lieutenant General Rajendrasinhji. Major General J.N. Chowdhary had the command in his hand. One division advanced along the Solapur-Hyderabad route. The other raided the Baijwada-Hyderabad route.
Indian Army was preparing to blow up the bridge to stop
While crossing the Naldarg Bridge within about 12 miles of Hyderabad, the Indian Army intercepted Lieutenant TT Moore of the Hyderabad Army with an explosives-laden jeep. He was preparing to blow up the bridge. If the Indian Army had delayed its campaign even by a day, then Operation Polo would have been postponed for weeks. The Razakars tried harder than the Hyderabad army. But by the evening of 17 September everything was settled. Hyderabad Radio confirmed this in the evening itself. The Hyderabad army surrendered the next day. 42 soldiers of the Indian Army were martyred. 24 missing and 97 injured. 490 soldiers of the Hyderabad army were killed. 122 injured. 2,727 Razakars were killed. 102 injured. 3,364 were arrested. The Razakars had to pay a heavy price for Rajvi’s arrogance.
Rajvi was also arrested on 19 September. It was a happy occasion. Also of relief for Nehru and Patel. During the Hyderabad campaign, there was peace in the whole country. There was not a single incident of communal violence. The Muslims of the country stayed with the Government of India. Patel wrote to Suhrawardy, “Indian Muslims came openly with us on the question of Hyderabad. It has had a good effect.”
Conflict between Nehru and Patel on the question of considering Nizam as a constitutional head
India accepted the Nizam as the constitutional head. However, on this question, there was a conflict again in the cabinet on September 14. Patel said that the Nizam is over. We cannot keep this ulcer cold. His dynasty ended. Nehru burst into tears and left the meeting. Later Patel agreed that as a constitutional head, the Nizam could not do much harm.
The Nizam signed the documents for the accession of Hyderabad to India. Through his decree, Major General J.N. Choudhary became the Military Governor of Hyderabad. The Nizam distanced himself from the Razakars. Withdrew its complaint to the United Nations on 23 September. Gave consent for the government to be elected. Left his claim to all the property. Had he done all this without any confrontation a few months ago, he might have been praised by everyone! The Nizam hesitated to go to Delhi. Sardar Patel reached Hyderabad in February 1949. The defeated Nizam stood with folded hands to welcome the winner Patel at the airport.
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