TODAY THAT DAY : 26 NOVEMBER 1947

HYDERABAD "POLITICAL WONDERLAND"


Moslem Ruler Wants State to be Third Dominion


From ALAN MOOREHEAD, "THE SCOTSMAN" SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


Hyderabad, Tuesday. Hyderabad is a State one half the size of France with a population of 18,000,000 and a treasure in gold, money, and precious stones which is vaguely estimated at £400,000,000,000. The destiny of the State, the people, and the treasure is at this moment being decided in circumstances which one can only describe as haphazard, confused, and full of oriental mysticism.


Alone of all the Indian States Hyderabad has not acceded to either Pakistan of the Indian Union. It is the largest, the richest, and the most powerful State. And yet there is no British representative whatever here or, for that matter, the representative of any other foreign Power.


Hyderabad has no elected Government. The Opposition is in prison. It governs itself through an ancient feudal monarchy and a British political machine which has now been left running on its own momentum, unsupported, in a void. It is a political wonderland of a kind spectacular even for Asia.


The way of the visiting newspaper correspondent is not easy. HE arrives to find a country which is outwardly more prosperous and tranquil than almost any other in India. These quiet streets are the negation of crisis Neither in the bazaars nor in the Government buildings would you ever guess that Hyderabad is struggling for its existence and even mobilising in a vague sort of way against a possible invasion.


ALL POWERFUL NIZAM


The stranger is received with nothing but kindness. It is only when he begins to make inquiries about what is happening that the facts seem to evaporate in front of him; and presently he begins to realise that no official here can speak with authority, that the only real controller of events is the Moslem ruler himself, His Exalted Highness the Nizam.Hyderabad "Political Wonderland"


And the Nizam is at prayers. He will remain at prayers, mourning the death of the grandson of the Prophet throughout the remainder of this week and part of next week as well. Everything stops for Mohurram, which is the most solemn observance of the Mohammedan Year.


The truth is, of course, that all this State is gripped by the long habit of obedience, of eventless days endlessly repeating themselves as inevitable a Royal house which has ruled in peace for two hundred years.


When the policemen's whistles blow sharply in the streets and the Nizam, a thin and lonely little man in an old hat, comes blowing along in a very old motor car on his way to the Mosque, when one roads on civic buildings "His Exalted Highness's Post office" or "His Exalted Highness's Bank" or "By His Exalted Highness's permission" when one sees the special Hyderabad stamps and the special currency notes when one hears stories of fabulous rooms at the Palace filled with sacks of slowly-decaying pearls guarded by 1500 Arab tribesmen-one must realise that all this has obtained the complete and apathetic acceptance of the people because thins have always been like this.


The modern read London buses, the excellent airport, the telephones, and the clean paved streets are simply a twentieth-century incrustation.


In Hyderabad every other day is a wedding or festival, a mourning or a funeral in the strict Wordsworthian sense; this sets the pace of life. These are the real things. The rest is a matter for the Nizam and for God.


CASE FOR INDEPENDENCE


Nevertheless, it is possible with patience to extract the fact of Hyderabad's case for independence. My authorities for what follows are a number of official letters which passed between Earl Mountbatten and the Nizam, and a talk with Nawab Moin Nawaz Jung, the State's chief negotiator, just before he left for Delhi this week in a last attempt to reach an understanding with Pandit Nehru - Prime Minster of the Dominion of India and Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel (Sardar Patel) Minister for Home and the States.


Hyderabad is different from every other Indian States because it is large and rich - larger and richer than most of the members of the United Nations-because it has a separate treaty with Britain, because it is an island of law and order on this continent, and because 80% of its inhabitants are Hindus and 20% Moslems.


In these circumstances it wishes to remain independent as a third Dominion in India. It is quite prepared, however, to fuse its economy, its defence, its communications, and its foreign policy with India. The only thing it will not give up is its sovereignty. It will not place itself under the entire control of the Government in Delhi.


Hyderabad to go on quoting the official case is being threatened and bullied by Delhi. A blockade, especially in petrol has begun. Indian troops are gathering on its borders in a menacing fashion. It has been deserted by Britain. It can get nothing out of Earl Mountbatten in Delhi but the repeated advice "You should accede to the Dominion of India." And Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel (Sardar Patel)  keeps making threatening speeches.


All this is unethical and unfair. It would be tedious to go into all the rebuttals of these points, all the devious negotiations which have dragged on between Hyderabad and Delhi for the last four months.


They even exhausted the powers of Sir Walter Monckton, the Nizam's legal adviser Sir Walter has returned to England.


What the Nizam is endeavouring to patch up now is a compromise, a standstill agreement which will preserve the status quo for another twelve months but this will solve nothing.


THE REAL ISSUES


To an outsider the real issues appear to be those of force. The Nizam, his ancestors, and a small group of Moslems have maintained power in this Hindu State since the eighteenth century, and they do not want to give it up. They cannot be independent because they have no ports and no effective army. They cannot accede to Pakistan because Pakistan is far away. They observe that the Indian Army has got itself heavily involved in Kashmir and it gives them some hope that they can go on playing for time.


To put it bluntly, the Nizam's best chance lies in the India and Pakistan so weakening them selves by quarreling with one another that they will leave Hyderabad alone.


In many ways one must sympathise with him. He feels, no doubt that the Delhi Government is a ramshackle structure full of political arrivists, communists, and other dangerous cranks.


Why should he surrender to them? Why throw away the traditions and dignities of two hundred years? What guarantees will be given? How shall his treasure be guarded? Will not riots break out between Moslem and Hindu once his power is gone? In the end will he not be forced to abdicate? Why have the British deserted him?


There can be only the gloomiest answers to these questions. And that is why Hyderabad is so peaceful this morning. It is the peace of intense anxiety.


 

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