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Annexation of Hyderabad: 70 years of Operation Polo


Bengaluru, Sep 18: Seventy years ago on this day, Hyderabad army, led by Major General El Edroos, surrendered before the Indian Army led by General Chaudhari in Secunderabad. Operation Polo, the code name of the Hyderabad "police action" in September 1948, officially came to an end. The operation Polo was terminated after the Indian Army accepted the surrender of the Nizam of Hyderabad's army.

Historic Charminar in Hyderabad. PTI file photo

Subsequently, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Usman Ali, signed an instrument of accession, joining India.

What are the reasons for Operation Polo?

In 1947 when the British left India, they gave princely states the choice to either join India or Pakistan or remain as independent states.

Initially, the Nizam of Hyderabad had approached the British Government with a request to get the status of an independent constitutional monarchy under the British Commonwealth of Nations. The British did not agree to the Nizam's request.

The then Indian Home Minister Sardar Patel requested the Nizam to join India, but he refused and instead declared Hyderabad an independent nation on 15th August 1947, the day Indian received Independence. The decision of the Nizam was supported by Pakistan.

The Nizam was a Muslim, but most of his subjects (85%) were Hindu. Being cautious of an opposing independent state in the middle of India, Sardar Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister, made a decision to annex the state of Hyderabad to India and sent the Indian Army to Hyderabad for the same.

Shocked by the idea on an independent Hyderabad right in the heart of India, Sardar Patel consulted with the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten and he suggested Patel to resolve the challenge without having to resort to force.

Though it was only a five-day war that began in September 13 and lasted till September 18, it was significant as the Indian Army took over a powerful state and Hyderabad was attached to India.

Determined to get to the bottom of what was happening, former Prme Minster Jawahalal Nehru commissioned a small mixed-faith team to go to Hyderabad to investigate. It was led by a Hindu congressman, Pandit Sunderlal. The Sunderlal report estimated that between 27,000 to 40,000 people lost their lives.

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