Those who argue for and against Telangana’s merger or liberation on September 17 do not consider the importance of the day or its context. The police action aimed at merging the Nizam Hyderabad State with the Indian Union commenced on September 13, 1948, and ended in just four days on September 17.
Bommakanti Satyanarayana Rao, noted freedom fighter, who was a native of Bonakallu village in present day Khammam district, wrote a brief history of the freedom fighters, which the then State government’s magazine published under the column Hyderabad’s freedom struggle about five decades ago. The writing of Bommakanti, who played a key role in the struggle and later became MLA from the Madhira constitutency, was a recollection of the events in memory of the freedom fighters.
Liberation movement leaders like Jamalapuram Keshav Rao, Kolipaka Kishan Rao, Kolipaka Ramachandra Rao, Kaloji, Dasaradhi, Hiralal Moria and Aitharaju Ram Rao were put in the same jail. Bommakanti, Jalagam Vengal Rao and Marri Channa Reddy led the movement from outside.
Against the backdrop of Hyderabad freedom struggle, the first Satyagraha was led by Jamalapuram Kesava Rao in Andhra and Swami Ramanand Thirtha in the Hyderabad State in 1938. When the Congress party was banned, Swami Ramanand Thirtha kept the movement alive from a small house in Kacheguda and later turned it into a great movement.
Leaders like Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, Digambar Rao Bindu, GS Melkote, Konda Venkat Rangareddy, Govind Das Shroff, Janardhan Rao Desai, Jamalapuram Kesava Rao, Madapati Hanumanth Rao, Marri Channa Reddy, Bommakanti, Hayagriva Chary, Paga Pullareddy, Kodati-Komaragiri-Kaloji Narayana Rao, VB Raju, MS Rajalingam, Vummethala Kesava Rao, KV Narsing Rao and PV Narasimha Rao played a key role and led the movement in their respective districts.
After a great debate on ‘Responsive Government’ and ‘Responsible Government’, the movement finally espoused the slogan ‘Merge with Indian Union’. Bommakanti, Jamalapuram and Madapati were among those who participated in the Congress Working Committee meeting at Sholapur under the Chairmanship of Swami Ramanand Thirtha.
Later, Bommakanti and others moved to Vijayawada and started operating from the residence of Ayyadevra Kaleswara Rao. It was decided to launch Satyagraha under the leadership of Jamalapuram in Andhra. In case he was jailed, Hagarivacharya would lead the movement, VB Raju was to take care of the campaign while Bommakanti had to organise border areas.
The Indian government was in a fix over the total anarchy prevailing in the Hyderabad State. It had no option but to resort to police action. Army was deployed. Colonel Amrit Singh and VG Subbarayan played a noteworthy role and it ended on a happy note with General JN Chowdary hoisting the Tricolour in Hyderabad. Realising the certainty of the people’s victory, the Nizam wisely submitted the ‘merger document’.
Freedom fighters like Bommakanti planned to defeat the Nizam. They asked Patels and Patwaris to resign, destroyed Kardgi Nakas to remove boundaries between the Indian Union and the Hyderabad State, mobilised people not to give their levy paddy to the government and started destroying State guesthouses being used by the Nizam government.
Bridges were destroyed to prevent the Nizam’s military and Razakars’ movements. Trains and buses were stopped and guerilla warfare was launched. They decided to declare each village as a republic and wanted to replace the government with the Gram Panchayat. While Madapati Ramachandra Rao, Hayagriva Chary and Valluri Basava Raju led the movement with Vijayawada as the centre, Bommakanti was Andhra in charge.
On August 7, 1948, under the leadership of Sardar Jamalapuram Keshav Rao, Burra Katha head Venkata Raju and Bommakanti team started the Satyagraha movement. As Jamalapuram feared his arrest, he made Bommakanti head of the movement with Hayagriva Chary as in charge and Vattikonda Ramakotaiah as assistant. Bommakanti could not say ‘no’ to Jamalapuram. Bommakanti hoisted the Tricolour in his native village Bonakallu and went underground.
When India attained Independence, people in the Hyderabad State revolted against the Nizam. Digambar Rao Bindu, who was Chairman of Committee of Action, encouraged the freedom fighters. Arya Samaj helped the freedom fighters to get army training under Pandit Narenderji. Training camps were organised in the villages on borders and the camps had in charges and commanders. Among them were Jalagam Vengal Rao, Kodati Narayan Rao, Paga Pullareddy, and KV Narsing Rao. The activists removed the boundaries. Patels and Patwaris stopped collection of the taxes. People chopped off palm trees preventing any revenue to the government from toddy.
Establishment of Village Republic was a very important milestone in the Hyderabad merger movement. Nine villages in Paritala and 12 in Warangal, Ganugupadu, Chilkuru, Jalamudi, Ramachandrapuram and Amaravaram were declared as village republics. Bommakanti and Hayagriva Chary established people’s governance at Paritala villages. Bommakanti collected arms from Polampalli. Along with him were leaders like Ramakoteswara Rao.
The people’s movement spread like wildfire and the entire Nizam’s administration came to a standstill. Army Commander Colonel Amrit Singh who was at Chillakallu Vijayawada highway and DIG Subbarayan chalked out the plan. Bommakanti, Madapati and Hayagriva Chary helped them.
On September 6, 1948, the Indian Union deployed the Army and Bommakanti was with them. The Army occupied Kodad and later took into custody Nizam’s Commander Sher Khan and others. They were made to wait on the highway and later shifted to Vijayawada. The Nizam’s army could not put up a fight for even an hour!
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel did not want to waste any time. He was in Pune on September 13, 1948, and personally supervised the operation and asked the forces to enter the Nizam State from all sides. Army regiments from Bandar and Vijayawada were kept on Hyderabad highway. When Razakars destroyed a bridge on Musi, the Indian Army built a new steel bridge within a day! When the Indian Army reached Chityala, there was message to keep the operation on hold for some time. Bommakanti along with driver Gokul Dastoga and Madapati Ramachandra Rao went to Hyderabad.
On Sept 17, 1948, they relaxed at Munshi’s house in Bollaram. The next day, Swami Ramanand Thirtha was released. On September 18, 1948, General Chowdary hoisted the national flag. The Hyderabad State formally merged with the Indian Union.
(The author is Chief Public Relations Officer to the Chief Minister of Telangana)