Movements in Various States
Though the Telangana Armed Struggle has the highest recall value in Hyderabad, it could not have really taken off had there been no moorings in the nation-wide struggle for self rule. However, with the movement lacking support from the ruling Nizam, the situation was entirely different from the general scenario in other princely states.
Lack of momentum was also due to the large scale illiteracy and poverty in Telangana region where 80 per cent of the rural population was landless. The land was concentrated in the hands of Nawabs, Jagirdars, Deshmukhs, and Landlords and the general public was under constant repression.
Nevertheless, the nationalist movement had branched off to Hyderabad as well. A State Congress did exist, but stayed out of harm’s way by considering the national movement only against the British and not against the Princely States. It did not win the support of the Nawabs, who wanted the status quo to continue. The State Congress, then populated by Arya Samajis, was given very limited social activity.
Setting up of the Andhra Mahasabha in 1920s allowed the literate people, Telugu speaking middle class, intellectuals and small businessmen to have a common platform where they could exchange views about literature and social issues. Madapati Hanumantha Rao, the eminent educationist was the first President of the Andhra Mahila Sabha.
However, they could not go any further or announce their political agenda as the activities of the organisation were under constant watch by the Nizam’s police.
The organisation received a booster in terms of Independence aspirations with Ravi Narayana Reddy becoming its member and later President. Ravi Narayana Reddy’s first presidential speech at the Andhra Mahasabha was about international politics and demand for democratisation. It attracted young and radical elements to rally around the communists.
Contrary to the wishes of the students of Osmania University, orders were issued by the authorities proscribing the singing of national songs inside the university or hostel campus. The students, upon being forced to vacate the hostels, rose up against the order. The students were praised for their patriotism by the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and V.D. Savarkar.
The leadership of the Hyderabad State Congress, till then dominated by Hindu religious forces from Arya samaj and Hindu Maha Sabha, turned more nationalistic after the arrival of Swami Ramanand Tirtha. Designated as the President of the State Congress in 1946, he attracted many young men who would later play prominent roles in independent India. PV Narasimha Rao, SB Chavan, Veerendra Patil, and Marri Channa Reddy were notable among them.
When it became clear that the British would leave the country, a resolution was passed at a social session of the Hyderabad State Congress in May 1947, towards accession of the princely state to the Indian Union. The session saw the initiation of ‘Join India Movement’ led by the likes of Swamy Ramananda Thirtha, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao and others who sat on Satyagraha and got arrested. People who wished to be part of Independent India observed the Join India Day on August 7, 1947. Their desire to hoist the National Flag on August 15 was not indulged by the Nizam who, not very keen on losing his stranglehold over the region, declared independence from the British two days before on August 13. Notwithstanding the restriction, the Tricolour fluttered across different streets in Hyderabad on the Independence Day. Swamy Ramananda Thirtha hoisted the flag at Sultan Bazar.
The struggle was later taken over by the Telangana guerrilla movement in full throttle, which ended with the Indian Army led by entering the state and overseeing the surrender of the Nizam’s army.
While the freedom movement in the Malabar area, as in the rest of “British” India, had an all-India organisational leadership, the political movement in Travancore and Cochin had no such all-India organisation and leadership.
The radical left in the Congress, together with the newly rising socialist and communist movements, however, had a common programme, which included the objective of obliterating all distinctions between “British” India and the “princely states”.
The Congress Socialist Party in the Malabar area became the nucleus of a powerful militant political movement for a responsible government in Travancore and Cochin, under the strong influence of the leftist forces in the two states. The role played by the Socialist-Communist leadership in broadening the mass base of the bourgeois-led movement for “responsibile government under the Maharaja” in Travancore, became integrated with the activities of the freedom-fighting Congress Committee in Malabar. It also made the organised working class of Alleppey the most active force, giving anew class content to the anti-imperialist and democratic movement throughout Kerala.
The Kerala Provincial Congress Committee (which in fact was the Congress Committee for the Malabar district) happened to be under the leftist leadership first for nearly a year (1934-35) and then for two years (1938-40). This became the centre which, while developing an independent political force of the working class and peasantry, radicalised the anti-imperialist masses in Malabar, also gave practical help to the developing democratic movement for responsible government in Travancore and Cochin.
It was at Mysore that the end to the Mysore Chalo agitation, the last phase of the freedom movement, was declared with the Maharaja, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, accepting to install a responsible government.
History has it that at the start of the Mysore Chalo agitation, the nationalists hoisted the national flag publicly for the first time on September 3. But the police intervened and removed it. But as the agitations intensified, the Maharaja agreed to install a responsive government, which was announced by K C Reddy.
When the rest of India was in celebratory mood in the aftermath of August 15, 1947, there were subdued celebrations in Mysore due to resistance from the administrators of the princely state. And, finally the Tricolour was unfurled publicly a fortnight later at Subbarayanakere.
The effect of Praja Mandals (initiated in Mysore, Hyderabad, Baroda and Indore among others) reached Jaipur, and a major struggle broke out.
The reason of this event can be attributed to the praja mandals and confidence the prince of Jaipur has got when Congress formed the first government (in 8 of the 11 provinces) in 1937. Eventually, this massive movement by Gandhi further ignited by Individual Satyagraha and Quit India Movement; where even the strong pro-British lobbies of bureaucrats, aristocrats and business class sided with Gandhi.
The contribution of the people of Rajasthan was as important as the contribution of the rest of the nation; but it would be better not to mention their contribution separately.
Daulat Mal Bhandari-Bhandari took active part in the freedom struggle. In 1942 he formed the “Azad Morcha” in Jaipur and staged satyagraha. He was imprisoned for nine months. He also organised ‘Praja Mandals’ in Jaipur.
When Lord Reading came to visit Srinagar in 1924, the political activists were able to present a charter of demands to him. It demanded the ownership rights for the peasants, abolition of beggar andadequate jobs for Kashmiris. Lord Reading forwarded them to the Kashmir Dogra ruler, who found no substance into it.
Not losing heart, a few graduates, which included Sheikh Abdullah, started meeting in a reading room in Srinagar and came to be own as the Reading Room Party. They started organizing debates and conferences highlighting the problems of Kashmiri Muslims. The leader of this group, Shiekh Abdullah, later formed the Muslim Conference.
This attempt was soon decried by the Dogra rulers as a Muslim conspiracy to finish off a Hindu prince.
In July 1931, police fired upon a massive demonstration in Srinagar against the Maharaja killing 21people. Abdullah convinced the Muslim Conference to change its name to National Conference (NC).
Jawaharlal Nehru, accompanied by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, came to visit Srinagar in 1940.This historic visit tried to bridge the gap between common Hindus and the Muslims of Kashmir. The NC decided to be part of the Indian National Congress led national movement and fully endorsed the call of “Quit India”.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir in June 1944 to win over Abdullah and National Conference to the side of the Muslim League but he failed miserably . The Sopore session of the NC in August 1945, was attended by Jawahrlal Nehru, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Maulana Azad in which Abdullah made public his programme of building a “New Kashmir which inextricably linked with the future and independence of India”.
In May 1946 the NC gave a call to the Dogras to “Quit Kashmir” which brought in further repressions, but the Congress stood with the NC. Abdullah with thousands of others, was put behind bars.
The Utkal Union Conference started in 1903 under the able leadership of lawyer Madhusudan Das. Many officers including Commissioner, K.G. Gupta, participated in the proceedings. It helped the social reform movement led by stalwarts like Biswanath Kar. Madhusudan Das, journalist Gouri Sankar Ray, literatuer Fakir Mohan Senapati and others attended the Indian National Congress sessions. Liberals, having lost their faith in the Congress, concentrated in the Oriya movement to translate their dreams for a united Oriya speaking tract.
A lawyer-cum-poet, Gopabandhu Das started an open-air school, as a residential institution, to train boys in modern education with patriotic commitment. He chose philosophers and statesmen to serve as teachers. Besides education, the students were to undertake relief work and other social reform ventures.
Later, the Oriya movement was bifurcated, Madhusudan leading the Union of Oriya Peoples’ Movement and Gopabandhu the Gandhian Non-Cooperation Movement. Youth leaders accepted Gopabandhu’s leadership to fight for the freedom.
The Oriya Movement under patronisation of Madhusudan and leadership of Krushna Chandra Gajpati of Parlakhemundi could achieve success; and on April 1, 1936; Orissa was declared as a separate State. In 1937, there was general election for the Orissa Assembly and Congress bagged all the elected seats except one under the 1935 Government of India Act.
During World War-II in the coalition Government of Orissa, poet-patriot Godavarish Mishra as Education Minister established the Utkal University as a forum to spread higher education in Orissa. People revolted against the inhuman oppression to suppress democratic aspirations.
In 1939 Gandhiji reached Rajkot to protest against the breach of the charter of Liberty of the people by the Local ruler instigated by the British Resident in Rajkot. He fasted for three days, from 3 to 6 March, 1939. Rajkot has had a long history and had a significant influence in the Indian Independence Movement. It was home to many famous personalities like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.