01 August 2013

Hyderabad War

cover of the October 25, 1948 issue of TIME Magazine

Kali's Reign
by Reginald Mitchell

The State of Hyderabad was the largest and most prosperous of the princely states in India. Covering over 200,000 square kilometers and containing over 16 million people. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII decided to keep the territory independent of India and Pakistan when the British left the local rulers of such states the choice of joining the new dominions of India or Pakistan, or of remaining independent.

On the 24th of August 1948 Hyderabad requested that the Secretary General of the United Nations have its Security Council consider the grave dispute it was having with India. Under Article 32 of the United Nations Charter. On the 4th of September Mir Laiq Ali, the Prime Minister of the Hyderabad State, announced to that nation's assembly that a delegation headed by Moin Nawaz Jung was being sent to United States.

Additional attempts to gain support for independence were made to the Labour Government of the United Kingdom as well as to the King. Hyderabad wanting garauntees of the British promises of independence. The attempts were unsuccessful despite some vocal support from Winston Churchill. These multiple attempts to secure their independence have angered the Indian government which is worried that Hyderabad will eventually join with Pakistan. Military preparations in Hyderabad caused similar preparations in India.

With ever increasing tensions it was known that war would soon arrive. In the pre-dawn hours of the 13th of September the Indian Army invaded Hyderabad. Troops were reported crossing into Hyderabad from every direction. The first battle was fought at Fort Naldurg on the Solapur Secundarabad Highway. The First Hyderabad Infantry and the attacking force of the 7th Brigade battling the 2nd Sikh Infantry.

Within a few days of the invasion the situation escalated. After a failed attempt by a Hyderabadi Razakars (an irregular, private militia with Moslem tendencies) to destroy one of the invading Indian armies the some survivors of the Razakars melted into the countryside and began terrorizing Hindu civilians. After 200 civilians were massacred in a local village an outraged Indian government escalated its military involvement.

On September 17th Pakistani militia fighters were intercepted trying to smuggle themselves and additional weapons into Hyderabad by Indian forces. A skirmish developed that has drawn official condemnation from Pakistani authorities. Additional Indian troops have now begun reinforcing the borders with West and East Pakistan dramatically increasing tensions.

The bloodshed was increased later that by a tragic accident when a Spitfire of the Royal Indian Air Force attacking Hyderabad positions was disabled and crashed in a densely populated area of city of Aurangabad killing over a hundred and injuring hundreds of others in the resulting destruction and fires.

On September 18th the Hyderabad State Congress was dissolved and the Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen party has established a new legislature. Support of the inhabitants for their government is collapsing as the mostly Hinu population wishes to join with India. Despite the superior Indian military forces and their occupation of the region the Nizam of Hyderabad escaped his palace and has declared his lands part of Pakistan. Given the situation the government of Pakistan has not acknowledge this declaration, but it has drawn additional volunteers into the region to fight for the Nizam from Pakistan.

Aurangabad fell to Indian forces on the 19th. At that point a majority of the the Hyderabad military surrendered.

Sporadic guerrilla warfare continues in Hyderabad and the increasing violence along the border with Pakistan threaten to throw the entire sub-continent into civil war.

A meeting in Geneva next week will hopefully be able to resolve this developing situation without any further bloodshed. A representative of Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII will be in attendance to negotiate terms. Continuing coverage of the conflict and results of the conference will be in our next issue.

The image for this post is a modified version of the 27 October 1947 Time Magazine cover. The original illustration was created by Boris Artzybasheff. According to Wikipedia the cover is in the public domain. I modified the original to fit this alternate timeline.

Info on the Royal Indian Air Force during this period.

Reginald Mitchell is a fictional reporter for Time in 1947. He is from the UK and spent a portion of his life in Colonial India.
Even in this timeline Hyderabad is destined to become part of an Indian union. Too many of the population will want to be Indian. It will have been a bloodier fight, would that blood have made the future Indo-Pakistani wars more severe? Could a small group of routed irregulars have killed 200 innocent people in an isolated village to start the escalation?

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