Bhaganagar Unarmed Movement

The Hindu Mahasabha under the leadership of Savarkar had along with other organizations such as Arya Samaj and Hyderabad State Congress launched the Bhaganagar Unarmed Movement against the repressive rule of the Nizam and his Razakars. The following extract has been taken from Civil Disobedience Movement Vol. XII, Part V, Marathwada Freedom Movement, Government of Maharashtra Publication, pp. 351-353; 374-379.

Freedom Struggle in Marathwada
P. M. Bapat’s Speech at Poona on Hyderabad Satyagraha
V. D. Savarkar’s Speech
Home Department (Special) On Hindu Maha Sabha


Freedom Struggle in Marathwada

The freedom struggle in Nizam’s Dominion was indeed an uphill task which was complicated not merely due to the servile attitude of the Nizam towards the paramount power, but also due to the communal forces. Hyderabad was the largest among the Princely States in India, and it included the five (now seven) Marathi speaking districts of Marathwada. By and large it was a semi-feudal State patronising the communal forces and thereby deprived the majority of the population of even elementary civil liberties. Hence the freedom struggle therein was an infinitely hazardous task, more so than that in British India.
As I have stated in my Editorial Note to this Volume, the leaders of public opinion formed a Provisional Committee for working out modalities for the foundation of the Hyderabad State Congress. However the Nizam government declared the Provisional Committee as an unlawful body and put a ban on the Hyderabad State Congress. Notwithstanding the ban the Hyderabad State Congress formulated a Committee of Action for launching a Satyagraha.
In view of the situation created by the Government ban on the formation of the Hyderabad State Congress, the Committee of Action reiterated that it was the birthright of the people to organise political associations and declared that the ban on the formation of the Hyderabad State Congress had been defied. Keeping the situation created by Government in view, membership of all primary members was suspended, absolving them of any responsibility whatsoever. A Working Committee, consisting of the following members, organised the State Congress activities and adopted measures to face the situation created by the ban:—President Govindrao Nanal, General Secretary Ramkrishna Dhoot, Members Ravi Narayan Reddy, Shrinivasrao Borikar and Janardhan Desai.
The Committee declared that it did not bear hatred or malice towards either any community or individuals. They were second to none in their loyalty to the Nizam and the country. But they wanted to live as self-respecting free citizens.
The Satyagraha was to be individual in its character, and Congress-minded persons in particular were told to avoid public meetings and demonstrations for the present. The creed of non-violence and truth were the sheet-anchor of the State Congress and nothing contrary was to be done. The State Congress declared more than once that it was purely a non-communal political organisation having nationalism as its very basis.
Despite this assurance the members of the Working Committee were arrested by the State police in front of the Imperial Telegraph Office, Hyderabad, where they had all assembled.
Judging from a statement issued by the Working Committee of the banned State Congress, the movement was confined for the present to Satyagraha by the leaders. In other words, there was no intention yet to organise mass disobedience of laws. Primary membership was suspended thus absolving ordinary members from responsibility. “ The Working Committee will carry on the activities of the State Congress and adopt such measures as it thinks necessary to meet the new situation…………….The Satyagraha will be of an individual character for the present, and public meetings and other demonstrations will be avoided. Nothing will be done contrary to the principle of truth and non-violence, which are the sheet-anchor of the State Congress “. The statement advised Satyagrahis to inform police the time and place of their proposed Satyagraha.
The Hyderabad Government, in an issue of the “Gazette”, declared unlawful, under Section 13 of the Public Safety Regulation, the Hyderabad State Congress and Committee of Action of that body.
The Government alleged that the State Congress and the Committee of Action aimed at interference with the administration of the State and were subversive of the maintenance of law and order. Further their existence would be dangerous to peace and harmonious relations between the various communities in the State.
Now that the first Working Committee was arrested, Swami Ramananda Tirtha was chosen Dictator of the State Congress. He launched the Satyagraha in Hyderabad City on 27th October I938 with prior intimation to the Police Commissioner of Hyderabad.
The story of Hyderabad freedom struggle, which can better be called a Mukti Andolan, is a peculiar one. It is unfolded through documents culled from the National Archives of India at New Delhi, the Maharashtra State Archives at Bombay, Police Commissioner of Bombay, Director General of Police of Maharashtra State, the Andhra Pradesh Archives at Hyderabad, numerous contemporary newspaper files and the Transfer of Power documents. An attempt has been made to arrange the documents chronologically from 1934 to April 1942. But the necessity of arrangement of the documents subject wise has put constraints upon us to follow a strict chronology.
- Editor

P. M. Bapat’s Speech at Poona on Hyderabad Satyagraha

11 Oct. 1938
“Some days ago I had given you an idea of my views about Hyderabad Satyagraha. I am anxious to hear Savarkar’s views. I differ a little bit from Savarkar regarding this Hyderabad question. I had been to Hyderabad on 23rd September 1938. I wanted to go earlier but owing to various reasons I could not do so and I had to wait till 23rd September 1938. As soon as Sir Akbar Hydari began to issue communiques I was invited by the Hindus there.”
“I came to know that Shankarrao Deo had a talk with Sir Akbar Hydari at which it is learnt that the Hon. Mr. Munshi and Hon. Mr. Noories were present. The consultations are reported to have resulted in a fiasco. Then I went to Hyderabad and learnt that consultations were in progress between one Ali Yar Jung and Narsingrao over the question of banning the Hyderabad State Congress. Sir Akbar Hydari had promised that the State communiques would not be executed so long as these consultations were in progress. I wanted to break these laws but was prohibited by local Hindu leaders. I was further told that Hindu youths were ready for satyagraha while the old leaders were engaged in consultations. I thought it better to wait until the consultations were finished. Then I read a State communique, dated 2nd October 1938 in which it was declared that no satyagraha was to be carried on until 17th October. I was taken to the higher State Police authorities and was asked to go back. I was detained in Police custody for one night and was sent back.”
“Before I went to Hyderabad I had determined not to come back or, in case I returned, I would carry on propaganda for one month over this question. I shall go back to Hyderabad on 1st November 1938 and at that time I wish all political groups to participate in this satyagraha and save the State subjects from harassment. We do not wish our State brothers to lag behind where political rights are concerned. We do not want the existence of these States wherein the subjects are harassed and are not allowed even to exercise the rights of citizenship, freedom of speech and press, holding of meetings etc. I am of opinion that we should be ready to make any sacrifice for the protection of the rights of citizenship of our State brothers.”
“I have selected Hyderabad State as an experimental measure as it is a fairly big one and at the same time adjoins Bombay Province. I can tell you from my personal experience that the Princes are outwardly democratic whereas they are at heart dictators. The Princes generally side with British Imperialism and are shrewd in maintaining their own existence. We have to carry on peacefully this struggle of democracy vs. dictatorship.”
“There is absolutely no scope for prosperity among the State subjects in Hyderabad who are pinned down by various State bans. I have composed a verse stating what we should do in order to protest against the injustice done to them. ‘We have to protect the harassed and protest against injustice and for that we shall have to move from place to place. While I was at Hyderabad I met many high State Police authorities to whom I said that I did not want to achieve my goal by bloodshed. I promised them not to return before one month.”
“After I returned from Hyderabad I carried on propaganda at Shahada (W. K.), Dhulia, Erandol, Jalgaon and Ahmednagar where I was greeted by the public including Congressmen who assured me that they would supply volunteers for the Hyderabad Satyagraha.”
A Satyagraha Mandal of Hindu Maha Sabhaites has been formed here today consisting of the following persons: G. V. Ketkar, G. M. Nalavade, V. B. Davre, S. L. Karandikar and Nathuram Godse.
The local congressites have not so far decided anything about this affair. I had seen N. V. Gadgil who promised to let me know after consulting S. D. Deo, K. M. Jedhe, etc. I have not yet received any reply from him. I have published a statement showing how this satyagraha movement should be carried on. All parties are free to carry on this movement without clashing…………….There should be two separate camps, one for Congressites and one for Hindu Sabhaites. Necessary funds for the satyagraha should be collected. Satyagraha camps should be established at different centres to carry out the programme which would consist of holding meetings, processions etc. Satyagrahis should have their own uniform and be given proper instructions to maintain discipline.
“Congressmen can also personally join in this movement. Both Congress and the Hindu Maha Sabha should carry on this satyagraha peacefully without a hitch. The public should therefore help this movement and also enlist as volunteers for this satyagraha.”

V. D. Savarkar’s Speech

“Bapat has outlined to you his plan for carrying on the movement of non-violent resistance regarding Hyderabad affairs. I now advise all youths to come forward as willing workers to join this Hyderabad satyagraha movement instead of asking Senapati Bapat to do everything. It is no use troubling him any more as he has already suffered a great deal for the nation during the last 40 years. He is weak and if youths trouble him any more they will lose an experienced veteran leader. It is therefore advisable that all Hindu youths should organise under his leadership and join this movement by thousands.”
“Personally I see no harm in Congressmen, Congress Socialists or members of any other political group carrying on this movement separately. The Hyderabad State subjects are harassed and are deprived of the rights of citizenship, freedom of press and speech, etc. which would not be tolerated by any self-respecting man irrespective of the political group which he belongs.”
“I had consulted the Arya Samajist leaders at Delhi and it has been decided to hold a conference of Arya Samajists in December next year at Sholapur to decide this question and also to get redress from the ban on the keeping of sacred fires in their houses. After this conference the Hindu Maha Sabha will have its annual session at Nagpur where the resolution passed by the Arya Samajist Conference will be supported. 10,000 Arya Samajists are ready for this satyagraha and are willing to cooperate with the Hindu Maha Sabha. The Varnashram Swaraj Sangh has also decided to participate in this satyagraha.”
“A day will be observed as Hyderabad Day later on when black flag processions should be taken out simultaneously all over India, and meetings to protest against the injustice done to Hyderabad citizens should be held. A letter will be sent 15 days before hand to the Nizam informing him about the starting of satyagraha and after that batches of satyagrahis will be sent one after the other from the camps to Hyderabad. Marathawada has prepared for satyagraha, while Kannadwada and Telguwada are not yet ready. The Hyderabad State subjects of Latur, Kalyani, etc. have started satyagraha movement and the students had gone on strike to protest against the prohibition of the Vande Mataram.”
“Every citizen irrespective of political faith must be willing to join this movement. He then made a reference to the Shiv Temple Satyagraha at Delhi and pointed out that the ancestors of the Nizam had been well aware of the power of Poona and were defeated at several places by the Peshwas. He also narrated an historical incident wherein a Vazir, named Masharur Mulk, of Nizam was brought as a slave to Poona as a result of the insulting treatment meted out to Govindrao Kale who was Peshwa’s representative at Hyderabad. Lastly he appealed to the audience to enlist as satyagrahis and help this movement. Every village must supply at least 5 volunteers and funds for the same. All the batches should work jointly or separately as found convenient but should be careful not to clash. Maharashtra should take the lead in this satyagraha under the leadership of Bapat, and try to protect the rights of Hyderabad State subjects.”

Home Department (Special) On Hindu Maha Sabha

The agitation which Messrs’ V. D. Savarkar and P. M. Bapat and others have been working up for some time now over the question of the necessity for protesting against the alleged repression of the Hindus in Hyderabad State and getting their grievances redressed, appears to be coming to a head. It will be seen from the Dy. I. G. P., C. I. D.’s foregoing letter that at a private discussion which took place in the Kesari office on the 11th instant between P. M. Bapat, V. D. Savarkar and others interested in the question, it was decided to make preparations for launching a satyagraha within the Hyderabad State limits in the near future. A Committee consisting of members of the Hindu Maha Sabha and the Varnashram Swaraj Sangh has been appointed to make the necessary arrangements in this connection including the collection of funds and the enrolment of volunteers for the movement. The technique of the proposed satyagraha will be that batches of volunteers will enter Hyderabad State limits, in contravention of any ban, hold meetings there, read proscribed literature and newspapers, perform religious ceremonies and generally oppose every obstacle that is placed in the way of ordinary civil liberties. At the public meeting which followed the private discussion, P. M. Bapat announced the formation of the Committee (or Satyagraha Mandal) and appealed to the public to help the movement by enlisting as volunteers, and claimed that in the East and West Khandesh and Ahmednagar Districts he had been assured by Congressmen and others that they would supply volunteers. V. D. Savarkar also appealed to the audience to join the movement in thousands and to assist it with subscriptions.
The exact date on which the satyagraha will start does not appear to have been finally decided yet but from Savarkar's speech it seems that warning is to be given to the Hyderabad State authorities 15 days before the commencement of the satyagraha. If the satyagraha does come off, there is the possibility that the Hyderabad State authorities may, through the Resident, approach the Govt. of Bombay for assistance in combating the Satyagraha movement by, e. g., preventing the batches of volunteers from proceeding from British India into Hyderabad State territory. If such a request is received and Government desire to comply with it, it seems that preventive action could appropriately be taken under sections 4 and or 5 of the Indian States (Protection) Act, 1934. It is observed, however, that only secs. 1 to 3 of the Act are at present in force and that the remaining sections come into force in any district or area only when and for such time as the Provincial Govt. may direct by notification in the local official Gazette. It would therefore be necessary to bring into force secs. 4 to 7 of the Act in the districts affected by the satyagraha movement, if it was decided to take action under the Act to prevent satyagrahis from this Province proceeding to the State. This matter may, however, be considered further if and when a request is received from the Resident at Hyderabad for the co-operation of the Government of Bombay in dealing with the satyagraha movement. In the meanwhile, D. I. G. P., C. I. D., and the D. M., Poona, may be asked to keep us informed of further developments. The papers may then be shown u. o. to P. & S. D. for information.