Kasim Rizvi, Razakars leader - Deccan Chronicle Image.
September 1948 was a turning point in the history of modern Hyderabad. The Nizam’s Dominion became a part of the Indian Dominion following military action, popularly known as the Police Action, in the second week of September 1948. An interim military government headed by General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri was installed and given charge of the state’s administration.
The Indian government did not take any action against the deposed Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, but Hyderabad Prime Minister Laik Ali and members of his cabinet were placed under house arrest. The Razakar leader, Kasim Razvi, and his associates were arrested and put to trial in different cases of murder, arson and loot.
The top priority for the military government was to restore law and order in the state, and round up armed gangs of Razakars. Once they were booked, they were to be tried for crimes they had committed. On September 20, the Military Governor announced that Kasim Razvi will be tried in a special court in the Red Fort in New Delhi. This was perhaps in response to one of Razvi’s inflammatory speeches, in which he had boasted that ‘Nizam’s flag would soon be flying on the Red Fort in Delhi.’
As the news of the announcement by General Chaudhuri reached the national capital, the Central leadership was shocked. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru shot off a letter to home minister Vallabhbhai Patel, expressing his displeasure.
"I hardly think this would be wise. It would be desirable to keep him (Razvi) in the Hyderabad state, but not preferably in Hyderabad city," Nehru wrote.
Razvi’s trial, he said, should be held in the Hyderabad state only and should be a short one. New Delhi at this time was any way entangled in the Godse trial. After seeing the news report, Governor-General Rajagopalachari also wrote to Nehru expressing his concern over the plan of the Military Governor.
Patel agreed with Nehru and noted that "the Red Fort is too sacred and historically important a place for the trial of a common ruffian of fanatical type like Razvi."
He informed the PM that he had already instructed Home Secretary V.P. Menon to ensure that the trial took place in the Hyderabad state jail by a special tribunal, preferably with a summary procedure. "Prolonged trials of such fanatics are likely to create communal tension. No doubt his presence in Hyderabad city would be dangerous and perhaps military authorities want to keep him in some secret place, but I entirely agree with you that he should not be brought to Delhi at all," Patel wrote.
The correspondence forms part of declassified documents of the Ministry of States (Ministry of Home Affairs now).
Nearly 1,500 Razakars were taken into custody and booked for different crimes but there was a delay in their trials. This led to criticism in some quarters in Hyderabad.
Dr Jaisoorya, son of Sarojini Naidu, wrote an open letter alleging a lackadaisical attitude of the military government. The letter was brought to the notice of Nehru, who forwarded it to the home minister. Patel sought to explain to Nehru that the delay was because of the lack of investigating officers in Hyderabad.
"A large majority of the local police either deserted or became thoroughly demoralised. In any event, it was impossible to trust the local police because of its partisan communal character. With some difficulty, we could spare some police officers from provinces but that has proved unequal to the magnitude of the task," Patel informed Nehru.
Because of the laxity of the local police, some important witnesses and family members of Kasim Razvi disappeared, posing further problems to the trial. It was because of the pro-Razakar elements in the Hyderabad Police that Laik Ali, Prime Minister of the deposed government, could escape from house arrest wearing a burqa and land in Pakistan.
Among several cases for which Kasim Razvi and his associates were prosecuted was the murder of journalist Shoebullah Khan in August 1948. Khan was opposed to the Razakars. In this case, Razvi and others were pronounced guilty by the Special Tribunal but they were acquitted in the High Court. Razvi dragged other cases also to the higher courts.
In the end, he was sentenced in different cases but the sentences were to run concurrently. He remained in jail for seven years, the duration of the maximum sentence. Razvi was first lodged in the Chanchalguda jail in Hyderabad, but given the sympathetic attitude of the jail staff, he was later shifted to Yervada Jail in Pune where he was released in September 1957 after completion of his sentence.
He came to Hyderabad for a couple of days and then left for Karachi, where he died in 1970. Laik Ali died the same year in New York. Thus ended the saga of two notorious figures of the Nizam era.