The teaser for the upcoming film ‘Razakar: Silent Genocide of Hyderabad’ on events surrounding the annexation of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad was released on Sunday, September 17. The teaser paints a very disturbing image, feeding into the right-wing narrative that Muslims under the Razakar militia headed by Qasim Razvi were only indulging in atrocities against Hindus before the state’s annexation to India on 17 September 1948. The teaser was shared by ex-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Telangana president Bandi Sanjay on Twitter, who said it gave him “goosebumps”.
The teaser begins with a shot of Hyderabad’s last Nizam Osman Ali Khan talking to the Razakar militia chief Qasim Razvi for making Hyderabad a “Turkistan”. It is mostly a derivative of the Telugu word “Turkoullu”, which in English means son or descendant of Muslim Turks and is often a pejorative term for Muslims.
That is the least violent scene in the teaser, with the rest of the 1.42 minute clip featuring a red-eyed Qasim Razvi and his Razakar henchmen going around attacking Hindus, converting them to Islam, and also specifically targeting Hindu priests. It also has some graphic shots of women being sexually assaulted, while making the point that the last Nizam and the Razakars wanted to impose Islam in the Hyderabad state. The film claims to be the “untold, buried, barbaric truth about Razakar”.
Watch the teaser:
Razvi was the president of the Majilis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), from 1946 onwards. A failed lawyer from Latur, he had taken over the MIM after the death of Bahadur Yar Jung, a former president and ideologue of the party. After independence, the last Nizam refused to join India or Pakistan, resulting in an impasse.
While a Standstill Agreement was signed on November 19, 1947 to negotiate terms for a year, things got out of hand due to the Razakars, who went around targeting anyone who was pro-India. The communal organisation also targeted Hindu families in the state, and many people have vivid memories of fleeing their homes in days leading up to the annexation.
The other side of the story the film likely ignores is the peasant rebellion, called the Telangana Armed Struggle, which began in 1946. Peasants in the state, especially in the Telangana region, had been oppressed by the Jagirdars (revenue collectors) and other landlords, most of whom were Hindu, for over a century. The Communist Party of India (CPI) not only led the rebellion, but also formed an armed militia to fight the Razakars in the districts until the state’s annexation.
Reacting to Bandi Sanjay’s comments on the teaser, Bharata Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader Prof Sravan Dasoju said that the movie was produced to “destroy social tranquility” in the state. “Are you ready to debate who was behind the Razakars? Are you ready to discuss the brutal and barbaric role of our so-called landlords and rulers of Gaddis and Samsthanam during the times of Razakar atrocities? Are you ready to discuss the atrocities and violence occurred even after the era of Razakars?” he asked on Twitter.
After everything failed, the Indian government sent the army which put forth Operation Polo, a military operation to annex Hyderabad on 17 September 1948. While the Razakars were arrested, the CPI continued its rebellion all the way until it was called-off in 1951.
The villainy of Hyderabad’s Razakars during the tumult of 1947-48 is a well documented chapter in the history of the erstwhile princely state. Read a detailed piece by Yunus Lasania speaks about the catastrophic period in history which ended with the massacre of thousands of Muslims, as estimated by the Pandit Sunderlal Commission of Enquiry, cannot be ‘fictionalised’ into convenient binaries.