October 31st 2018 marks the 143rd birth anniversary year of Sardar Patel. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was India’s first deputy prime minister and the minister of home affairs. He acted as de facto Supreme Commander-in-chief of Indian army during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. His role in unifying India will be etched in the history forever till eternity.
A glimpse from the history:
Sardar Patel took charge of the states department in July 1947. He sensed the urgent and imperative need of the integration of princely states. Integrating 562 independent states into one nation was difficult and delicate task. But it was critical to save the nation from Balkanization, a fateful process of dividing a nation into smaller hostile states, a disastrous fate which most of the African countries are facing even today. By August 15 1947 , amongst 562 independent states, all except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir had acceded to India.
Patel’s Diplomacy Vs Jinnah’s Tactics
While the nation was at the verge of Independence, Jinnah was keen to attract the larger border states to Pakistan. He lured to permit several princes including that of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer to accede to Pakistan on any terms they chose. Giving their rulers blank sheets of paper and asking them to write down their terms, which he would sign.
On the other hand, Sardar Patel followed an iron handed policy. He made it clear that he did not recognize the right of any state to remain independent and in isolation, within India Union. Despite Jinnah’s offer which looked lucrative then, Sardar Patel managed to get the princes into India with his skillful combination of diplomatic persuasion of pointing to the larger long term interests of their population and also a certain amount of arm twisting and threats which made it clear that there would be a price to pay if they did not accept the conditions that Indian government had put on them.
He persuaded them for an immediate surrender of defense and foreign affairs to the government of India. Sardar Patel also appealed to the patriotic and national sentiments of the princes and invited them to join the forming of a democratic constitution in the national interest. By his diplomatic tactics he broke the union of separatist princes. Due to his efforts, by August 15 1947, all except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir acceded to India.
Hyderabad was the largest and wealthiest out of all the princely states in India. It covered parts of Telangana, Karnataka (present day Hyderabad Karnataka region), and Maharashtra (Marathawada region). It was ruled by the Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah-VII. The Nizam who initially wanted to accede with Pakistan chose to remain independent very much against the wishes of majority of his people. He hoped to maintain the state with his overwhelmingly untrained “Volunteer” army under the civilian commander Qasim Razvi.
The period from 15 August 1947 to 17 September 1948 was a horrible one for the people in this region. Most of the people living in the region wanted to join the Indian Union and numerous revolts rose against the Nizam. The Nizam responded by creating a private militia unit known as the Razakars under Razvi, a relegious fanatic who insisted on the “right of Muslims to enslave the Hindu”. The Razakar militia brutally put down the armed revolts by the peasantry and committed horrendous atrocities on the population. Countless women became victims of rape and thousands went to jail and faced inhuman atrocities of the oppressive regime.
As the tyranny of the Razakars continued to increase, the Indian Home Minister Sardar Patel decided to annex Hyderabad and end Nizam’s rule once for all. As a result of this, the Indian Armed Forces came up with an operation to make sure that Hyderabad was integrated into the Indian union. This operation came to be called as Operation Polo. After a 5-day long military operation the Nizam of Hyderabad surrendered and Hyderabad was acceded to the Indian Union
Today 1.3 Billion Indian stand united despite individual or social differences in physical attributes, skin color, castes, creed, cultural and religious practices and stand as an exemplary nation for the rest of the world. It’s time to pay due credits to the Iron Man of India who made this happen.