September 17 – different meanings of today’s yesterday సెప్టెంబర్ 18, 2014Posted by Telangana Utsav in Essays.
Tags: Accession, Nehru, Nizam, Operation Polo, Police action, Sardar Patel, Telangana Peoples Armed Struggle, TRS
Just another day for the common man
Sudipta Sengupta TNN |Sep 18, 2014
HYDERABAD: The lapse of 66 years, multiple governments and a long-drawn Telangana movement spanning four decades notwithstanding, the contentious September 17 debate still seems to be far from over for the new state. On Wednesday, the 1948 event, when the princely state of Hyderabad officially became a part of the Union of India, sparked fresh controversy as representatives of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government of going back on its pre-poll promise of bestowing official status on the Hyderabad Liberation Day. The “flip-flop”, BJP alleged, was rooted in the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS) attempts at appeasing the city’s Muslim population by intentionally concealing the “autocratic” image of the last Nizam.
“September 17 was a historic milestone for Telangana, which the TRS is now unwilling to recognize for petty political interests,” said BJP’s official spokesperson and media convener, Krishna Sagar Rao. He further elaborated how the day had marked the end of an oppressive era, accentuated by the presence of the Razakars, who he described were part of “the Nizam’s private militia”. “Also, our demand (that the day be officially celebrated) is not misplaced, given that Marathwada and parts of Karnataka that comprised the state of Hyderabad still observe it as Liberation Day. It indeed signified people’s freedom from the oppressive rule of the Nizam,” he added.
While Prof M Kodandaram agreed to the existence of opposition to the feudal system in 1948, he argued that it was based on “political and not on religious grounds”. “To give the event religious colour now would amount to misinterpretation of Hyderabad’s history. We should also be cautious and do nothing that can alienate a certain community at this juncture,” the T-JAC chairman stated, calling for September 17 to be observed as ‘merger day’ instead. “We could even recognize the day without giving it any name,” he added, while supporting TRS’ stand on the issue.
Coming out in support of his government was also deputy chief minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali, who said that his party had raked up the issue prior to forming the government only to spread awareness about the day, which he claimed was when “Telangana achieved democracy in the true sense of the word only to lose it again following its merger with Andhra in 1956”.
Such bickering between political rivals, however, failed to amuse city intellectuals. Echoing the sentiment of the common man, they said that September 17, 1948 has come to signify nothing more than just an occurrence in the history of Hyderabad State and it should be allowed to remain just that. Resorting to varied interpretations of the day for the sake of vote-bank politics would unnecessarily lead to communal disharmony, they warned.
“Yes, it is a major landmark in our history, but it has to be viewed more objectively,” stressed M Bharath Bhushan, convener, Telangana Utsav Committee. “From the lens of the people of Telangana, it is more than just a date. It is a day to remember the unfinished task of struggle for autonomy, identity and freedom from exploitative forces.” That its significance should, however, be filtered from unnecessary controversies is something Bhushan also advocated.
Noted city scholar Anwar Moazzam’s reaction wasn’t too different. Dismissing arguments about the day freeing people from the clutches of Osman Ali Khan’s rule, he said: “Theories about the dictatorship of the Nizam drawing to an end and, therefore, it being termed as ‘Liberation Day’, are baseless. It was a development that was bound to happen. It was delayed briefly as the Nizam took time to explore the possibility of retaining Hyderabad’s status as an independent state.”
While scholars vehemently rejected the idea of publically celebrating September 17, as is being proposed by right wing outfits, they also strongly objected to some sections of the Muslim community mourning the day as the ‘Fall of Hyderabad’ attributing it to the atrocities inflicted upon them during the Police Action.