The Unstoppable Ascent of Kasim Razvi

The Unstoppable Ascent of Kasim Razvi

This episode narrates the unending intrigues of the Nizam Mir Osman Ali against merging Hyderabad into the Indian Union and how he gives unlimited power to Kasim Razvi.

Read the Earlier Episodes

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How the Liberation of Hyderabad Aborted a Pakistan in the South
The Unstoppable Ascent of Kasim Razvi
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Excerpts from Kasim Razvi’s Bigoted Speech in Hyderabad, Circa March 31, 1948
The Unstoppable Ascent of Kasim Razvi

SYED MUHAMMAD KASIM RAZVI was a born bigot who rose to become a bizarre and short-lived Rasputin to Nizam Mir Osman Ali. Their liaison was a classic enactment of this Kannada proverb: the food had rotted, the dog was hungry. Kasim Razvi was that feral canine that was recruited by a doddering Nizam to desperately save his moth-eaten dominion. 

But Razvi wasn’t the only one. He was simply the terrorist face of the Nizam’s ceaseless manipulations. 

There was Mir Laiq Ali, the Nizam’s Prime Minister, who physically threatened to shoot K.M. Munshi to death. Laiq Ali, who had been puppeted to Prime Ministership on Kasim Razvi’s advice.   

There was Akbar Hydari, the Finance Minister who founded the Osmania University — back then, it was a vast haven for Islamic fanaticism. Akbar Hydari is the great grandfather of Aditi Rao Hydari.     

Then there were sundry Muslim officials in the highest rungs of the bureaucracy, explicitly ordered to harass and hound out Hindu employees from Government service. 

And Mir Osman Ali, the Master Conductor of this fanatical orchestra, stayed behind the scenes to maintain plausible deniability and pretended to carry on peaceful negotiations with the new Indian Union. This is how K.M. Munshi describes the Nizam’s sleazy politics: 

All this time the Nizam sat in the King Kothi weaving web upon web of intrigue. He trusted no one. He himself had all the threads of the intrigues in his hands and never allowed either party to know what was happening to the other. He negotiated with Lord Mountbatten through the Nawab of Chhatari and Sir Walter Monckton, and through the latter, he often sounded various leaders of the Conserva­tive Party in England. He had Kasim Razvi on the leash, to create trouble when required… And directly or indirectly, he never ceased to maintain contact with Jinnah.

But when he ultimately realised that it was impossible to fool the shrewd Sardar, the Nizam almost wholly surrendered to Kasim Razvi, as we shall see.

KASIM RAZVI WAS NOT EVEN A NATIVE OF HYDERABAD. Born in the then United Provinces, he graduated with a law degree from the Aligarh University and migrated to Latur, where established a small law firm. Latur back then was part of the Nizam’s dominions. Razvi’s initial clientele was supplied by Abdul Hai, his father-in-law, a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police. 

Razvi’s innate bigotry soon found an outlet for its expression. He joined and then, quickly became the president of the local Ittehad (of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen). K.M. Munshi gives us a sketch of the kind of clients that Razvi represented:

He was… the legal adviser of a gang of goondas of the town headed by a dangerous criminal. One day the gang looted a lorry carrying food. When a few members were arrested, it gathered a mob and tried to rescue the criminals from the Police Station. The Police open­ed fire. The leader of the gang was killed. A commission was appointed to inquire into the police firing. This gave Razvi the chance he was waiting for. The majority of the members, one Hindu and the other Muslim, justified the police action; the other Muslim member—a High Court Judge—held the firing unjustified. Later, when Razvi came into power, the judge was appointed a Judicial and Police Minister.

But Kasim Razvi would acquire this kind of power only after the death of Bahadur Yar Jung, another arch bigot and founder of the (original) Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. 

Which opens up another chapter. 

Bahadur Yar Jung: A Pioneer of Pakistan

It was Bahadur Yar Jung who originally seeded the idea of maintaining Hyderabad as a separate Islamic country ruled exclusively by the Sharia. His close circle of friends included Allama Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah and both admired his zeal for propagating the “Pakistan movement.” He occupied a revered pedestal in the All India Muslim League. True to its roots as a bigoted Islamic state, this is how Pakistan has honoured Bahadur Yar Jung: 

  • The Bahadurabad locality in Karachi is named in his honour, complete with a replica of the Hyderabad Charminar. After Partition, this area housed the Muslims who migrated to Pakistan from Hyderabad. 

  • The Bahadur Yar Jung Library and Bahadur Yar Jung Academy are named in his memory.

  • As recently as 1990, the Pakistani Postal department released a stamp celebrating him in its Pioneers of Freedom series.  

Bahadur Yar Jung died quite young — he had turned thirty-nine in 1944. Mir Osman Ali wept copiously on the occasion lamenting that the life of such a promising bigot was cut so cruelly short. In his own words, Bahadur Yar Jung

was a gift from the hand of the Almighty Allah for the sake of protecting the rights of the Chosen Quam (Muslims). His work whispered in the ear of Usman: He was brave and an expert in fighting. The disinterested service rendered by him to his community and the nation deserve praise…

Bahadur Yar Jung’s grandson Mohammad Moazam Khan was first elected as an MLA in 2004 from the Bahadurpura constituency on the AIMIM ticket. There’s a fundamental lesson in this for the Hindu community — of doggedly sustaining ancestry and land and political power. 

Kasim Razvi Takes Over

MIR OSMAN ALI appointed Abdul Hasan Syed Ali as Bahadur Yar Jung’s successor to the MIM. However, Abdul Hasan proved to be a weakling — he was no match to his predecessor’s bigotry and was expelled in 1946.

Kasim Razvi took over. And moved at breakneck speed. As a first step, he identified all Muslim officials in the Nizam’s “administration” who did not share his bigotry and shunted them out. Likewise, he mercilessly evicted his rivals and critics both within the Ittehad and the Government. 

Kasim Razvi was a devout missionary — as we’ve seen in the previous episode, more than even the Nizam, he was determined to establish Hyderabad as a pure Islamic state. A Pakistan in the South. 

The rapid, unstoppable and scary ascent of Kasim Razvi claimed three Prime Ministers of Hyderabad within just two years: Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan (or the Nawab of Chhatari) and the well-respected Mirza Ismail who had been imported from Mysore.  The fate of the Nawab of Chhatari is a particularly revealing. 

It will be narrated in the next episode. 

To be continued 

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