25 October, 2020

'Crowds Greeted The Indian Army And Hurled Stones At The Retreating Nizam's Batt

Shyam Benegal turned 13 in 1948

'Crowds Greeted The Indian Army And Hurled Stones At The Retreating Nizam's Batt
Four months before I turned thirteen, the Nizam of Hyderabad refused to sign the Instrument of Accession, and Hyderabad changed overnight. Qasim Rizvi, the leader of the Razakars, held a meeting at Fateh Maidan. He drew a huge crowd. We bicycled 12 km from our home in the British cantonment to hear him. He spewed venom at the government of India and the "cowardly" Hindus. It was scary, but luckily for us, we lived next door to Delhi's envoy K.M. Munshi, who had a security force of 300 Kumaonis to protect him.

At home, the dinner table became a combat zone for various ideologies. My father, a photographer who had a studio next to Deen Dayal's in the British cantonment, was very Gandhian. My eldest brother had communist leanings. The second brother was into the RSS. It was he who insisted that I go for drill and exercises with RSS volunteers. Meanwhile, a schoolfriend, Omar, who lived next door, had joined the Razakars. His exercises finished earlier than mine, so he would come and wait for me at the RSS shakha, and then we'd go off together...


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