By M. Ravibabu

The teaser of Razakar – Silent Genocide of Hyderabad, a movie purported to bring out the historic realities of Nizam rule in Telangana just before and after Indian independence, was released in September. The teaser claims that the Nizam’s aim was to make Hyderabad an independent Islamic state and a silent genocide was committed on the Hindu population of Hyderabad state.

The Nizam’s ruling structure, nearly static since inception, was headed by the Nizam. Below him were the Muslim nobility in the court. Below them were a huge retinue, mostly Hindus, helping the Nizam in administering the countryside.

Out of 53 million acres of land, 10% was the fiefdom of the Nizam, 30% was with nobles and landlords, and the rest was under government land revenue. In addition to back-breaking taxes, all methods were used to exploit the peasantry. Accentuating these problems are the religious and linguist differences between the ruled and the ruler – acutely felt by the urban elite.

Thus while the regime was patently pro-Muslim, the rural set up was bolstered by Hindu upper castes thus it was not an Islamic theocratic state. Within the feudal set up that the Nizam was presiding over, there is evidence to show that the Nizam was syncretic as he gave grants to temples and educational institutions, and for promoting works not limited to Islam. This was further strengthened as the Nizam banned cow slaughter in public places in 1923.

By 1946, with the imminent departure of the British, chaos set in and Hyderabad became a power keg. The Nizam wanted to cling to power, come what may. As the Nizam’s army was weak and police inadequate and corrupt, he encouraged a Muslim extremist organisation, Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM). Under the militant presidentship of Kasim Razvi, its militia swelled to around 200,000 – propped by the inflow of Muslims from within and outside Hyderabad state. They were joined by militia of the rural gentry, who were mostly Hindu, and some lower caste Hindus badly impacted by caste and economic oppression. Thus while it was a predominantly Muslim force, it had some Hindus.

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