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- 13th September marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Polo, the military action launched by the Indian Army on September 13, 1948, to integrate the princely state of Hyderabad.
- The Nizam of Hyderabad was dithering on joining India ever since Independence on August 15, 1947.
- The military offensive in Hyderabad state was termed as ‘Police Action’ at the time by the then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the Nizam’s forces surrendered to the Indian Army by September 18.
- Operation Polo was launched in the context of the Nizam of Hyderabad's desire to keep his state independent after India gained independence in 1947.
- He took advantage of India's focus on the Kashmir conflict with Pakistan, which diverted resources and attention away from Hyderabad.
- In November 1947, the Nizam signed a standstill agreement with India, which meant that there would be no immediate integration of Hyderabad into India, and the existing conditions would continue for a year.
- However, there were several reasons that led to the launch of Operation Polo on September 13, 1948:
- Increasing Tensions: The Nizam's administration in Hyderabad took advantage of the standstill agreement to increase the strength of its irregular force known as the Razakars. These Razakars, led by Maj Gen SA El Edroos, were causing problems for the predominantly Hindu population in the state.
- Cross-Border Raids: The Razakars were conducting cross-border raids and creating tensions along the state's borders.
- Overtures to Pakistan: The Nizam was making overtures to Pakistan, hinting at the intention to establish an independent country within India's borders.
- Threat of Secession: The Nizam's actions and the presence of the Razakars posed a threat to the unity of India, and there was a fear of Hyderabad attempting to secede from India.
- As a result of these developments, the Indian government decided to take action against Hyderabad to remove the threat of secession and to ensure the state's integration into India.
- In terms of military strength, the Nizam's forces numbered less than 25,000, and only a fraction of them were well-trained.
- The Razakars, though numerous, were not a formidable military opposition. The Nizam had boasted of a much larger force, but this turned out to be an empty claim, and Hyderabad's resistance crumbled within the first two days of the offensive.
- Operation Polo was conducted primarily by Maj Gen Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri's 1 Armoured Division, with subsidiary thrusts from the north, south, and east of the state.
- The operation was a success, and the Nizam announced a ceasefire on September 17, with the formal surrender taking place on September 18.
- Maj Gen Chaudhuri became the Military Governor of Hyderabad, and the state was integrated into India.
- Hyderabad State: Hyderabad was one of the largest princely states in British India, ruled by the Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. The population was predominantly Hindu, but the Nizam was a Muslim ruler.
- Controversial Status: The Nizam wanted to maintain Hyderabad's independent status, even as India gained independence in 1947. The Nizam's aspirations for independence were complicated by his predominantly Hindu population's desire to merge with the Indian Union.
- Communal Tensions: Communal tensions between the Hindu majority and the Muslim ruling elite, led by the Razakars (a private militia), further escalated the situation. The Razakars were accused of atrocities against Hindus, which intensified the demand for Hyderabad's integration into India.
- Sardar Patel's Diplomacy: The Indian government, led by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, sought to peacefully integrate Hyderabad into India through negotiations, but these efforts failed due to the Nizam's reluctance.
- Planning and Execution: In September 1948, the Indian government decided to use military force to bring Hyderabad into the Indian Union. The operation was led by Lieutenant General J.N. Chaudhuri, and the Indian Army moved swiftly to encircle Hyderabad.
- Military Campaign: The military campaign was relatively short-lived. Indian forces faced limited resistance from the Nizam's army and the Razakars. The Indian Army advanced rapidly, capturing key cities and towns.
- Nizam's Surrender: Realizing the futility of resistance, the Nizam surrendered on September 17, 1948. He signed an Instrument of Accession, officially integrating Hyderabad into the Indian Union.
- Integration: The successful conclusion of Operation Polo marked the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union, ensuring the end of princely rule in India. The state was reorganized into Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- Resettlement: Many Razakars and officials of the Nizam's government were arrested and tried for their roles in the violence and atrocities during the conflict.
- Legacy: Operation Polo remains a subject of historical debate. Critics argue that the Indian government's use of force was heavy-handed, while proponents contend that it was necessary to prevent further communal violence and to secure Hyderabad's integration into India.
- Cultural Integration: Hyderabad's integration into India brought together people from diverse linguistic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. It marked the beginning of a process of cultural assimilation and integration.
Operation Polo was a crucial military operation in India's early post-independence history, as it facilitated the integration of the princely state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union. It was a complex event marked by political, religious, and cultural tensions, with lasting implications for the region's history and the broader narrative of Indian unity.
Q. What were the key factors and consequences of Operation Polo in the integration of princely states into India after independence? (250 Words)