The Destruction of Hyderabad

December 2014 9781849044394 320pp


The fascinating story of the fall of the Indian princely state of Hyderabad has till now been dominated by the ‘court historians’ of Indian nationalism. In this book A. G. Noorani offers a revisionist account of the Indian Army’s ‘police action’ against the armed forces and government of Hyderabad, ruled by the fabulously wealthy Nizam. His forensic scrutiny of the diplomatic exchanges between the Govt of India and the Govt of Hyderabad during the Raj and after Partition and Independence in 1947 has unearthed the Sunderlal Committee report on the massacre of the Muslim population of the State during and after the ‘police action’ (knowledge of which has since been suppressed by the Indian state) and a wealth of memoirs and first-hand accounts of the clandestine workings of territorial nationalism in its bleakest and most shameful hour. He brings to light the largely ignored and fateful intervention of M. A. Jinnah in the destruction of Hyderabad and also accounts for the communal leanings of Patel and K. M. Munshi in shaping its fate. The book is dedicated to the ‘other’ Hyderabad: a culturally syncretic state that was erased in the stampede to create a united India committed to secularism and development.


‘It was the final act that brought Muslim rule over a Hindu majority to an end, the last show for the Mogul empire, told here in detail from diplomatic and journalistic sources and witness testimony. … This closely argued telling of a grisly episode is a valuable addition to the story of partition – and another blow to the belief that the independence of the sub-continent was achieved by non-violent means.’ — The Independent

‘Drowned out by the remembrance of Partition in the north, the story of annexation in the south has never fully been told. After almost seventy years of official silencing, A. G. Noorani carefully reconstructs the political efforts to undermine the independence of Hyderabad and the violent “Police Action” that claimed the Muslim-ruled kingdom for the Republic of India. This is a brave and important book by one of India’s most distinguished journalists and champions of due process. Noorani has performed a great service both to the integrity of India and the story of its origins.’  — Nile Green, Professor of History, UCLA

‘Among the untold stories of the Partition of India the fate of the former princely state of Hyderabad looms large. With a lawyer’s forensic attention to detail A. G. Noorani peels back the layers of bureaucratic obfuscation to reveal what really occurred when Indian forces “liberated” Hyderabad and ensured its accession to India rather than Pakistan. It is a riveting story, told with flair, one that cautions against our acceptance of “official” histories, irrespective of their source.’ — Professor Ziauddin Sardar, author of Reading the Qur’an and editor of Critical Muslim 

‘[A] thoroughly researched revisionist account of the “police action” led by the Indian army against the government of Nizam of Hyderabad in 1948 … Noorani’s account questions the narratives put forth by the “court historians of Indian nationalism”’ — The Indian Express

‘At a time when the future of Hyderabad city is being hotly contested … A. G. Noorani’s book on the former Hyderabad State and its painful process of merger with Indian Union should serve as a relevant set of documents for analysis. … wonderful work.’ — The Times of India

‘Noorani sheds fresh light on the fall of Hyderabad and provides a rare insight into the events before and after its invasion in September 1948 by the Indian Army. … By making use of information available in the official archives of Andhra Pradesh, largely unexplored, Noorani tries to set the record straight. His narrative exposes the false claims of “court historians” that it was only a “police action” to quell a so-called “revolt.”’ — Dawn (Pakistan)


A. G. Noorani is an advocate, Supreme Court of India, and a leading constitutional expert and political commentator. He is a regular columnist for Frontline and the author of, inter alia, Jinnah and Tilak: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle and Indian Political Trials 1775–1947.

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