Monday, September 27, 2010

The Endgame at Hyderabad State

The Endgame at Hyderabad State
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Endgame of the princely state of Hyderabad continues to attract attention of not only scholars and researchers but also to writers that were witness to that era.

Hyderabad was one of the largest princely state in British India and its ruler the Nizam of Hyderabad was the richest man of the world.

On Sunday Sept 26, 2010, a function was organised in Chennai where a booklet written by SM Pasha, retired faculty of English, New College, was released.

The author chronicles the events before the ‘police action’ against Hyderabad state and about the communal carnage in the aftermath of the fall of the princely state.

The 81 years old author who worked as subeditor with ‘The Mail,’ the defunct English eveninger, owned by “The Hindu” group of newspapers, roundup his discussion talking about the role of the last Nizam, in the run up to the endgame at Hyderabad.

He narrates the drama enacted by Kaasim Rizvi, the man who tried to resist the march of democracy with strong arms means in Hyderabad.

Though partisan, the author discusses the role of Congress and Communist parties building the mass movement against the princely state.

The most candid narration is about the conman man who had nothing to do with the tumultuous events that fleet past them. The author rightly says that the ordinary people were made pawns in the endgame of the Hyderabad state.

The most chilling account of the booklet is the narration of the barbarity in the aftermath of the police action done against the ordinary Muslims of the Hyderabad state.

The narration if true is hauntingly inhuman. How barbaric a man could be, if the authors account is to be believed, puts the entire humanity into shame.

The author talks about the report commissioned by the government of India to asses the atrocities committed against the Muslims of Hyderabad state.

The commission headed by Pandit Sunder Lal and Kazi Abdul Ghaffar toured the state and submitted the report that was never published and still in wraps.

The author who has a wind of the official report, claim that 27000 Muslim lives were lost in the communal carnage in the aftermath of the police action in Hyderabad.

There are many other things that the author narrates in the booklet and needs a full-length piece for discussion.

Just to end this note I quote the preface that says; the wounds of Hyderabad will not heal until India seeks forgiveness of the victims of ‘police action’ and compensates them adequately for their losses of life and property.’

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Need to scale up Elephant protection campaign

Need to scale up Elephant protection campaign
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The shocking news of seven elephants being killed, by a speeding goods train while they were crossing the railway tracks near Binnaguri in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal on Thursday, September 23, 2010, has unnerved the wildlife watchers in the country.

What actually happened was a herd of elephants was crossing the railway tracks while going from one forest to another, when two baby elephants were trapped on the tracks. When other elephants came to the rescue of the baby elephants, a goods train that was passing through at that time, hit them, killing five elephants on the spot and injuring three, two others succumbed to their injuries later.

The accident site in Jalpaiguri is a designated jumbo corridor where railway drivers are required to provide safe crossing to the elephants. Railway officials have been requested a number of times to restrict the speed limit of trains plying in the area to 40-km/hr for the safety of the elephants.

However, speeding trains often hit elephants in the area as the railway line crosses the elephant corridor. Some three months ago, a speeding train ran over an elephant and killed it near the same spot. So far, negligent train drivers have killed 150 elephants in the country since 1987.

Elephants are highly intelligent and sensitive animals. They never abandon their injured and dead. In the latest tragedy, the whole herd was killed as they tried to save two calves injured on the track. This incident could have been avoided, if the train driver had applied its presence of mind. Elephant paths are well known to the railway drivers, the jumbos always cross the track by night, and they can be spotted from a distance if the trains are moving at the right speed.

The Environment Ministry has expressed outrage over this tragedy. It was about to declare elephants our national heritage animal and announce the creation of a National Conservation Authority to ensure their protection.

The elephant task force has already devised simple measures to protect them from being hit by the trains. This is by making drivers accountable for their actions, place speed governors on trains in sensitive areas, enforce patrolling along the tracks, stop the movement of good trains at night in elephant corridors and enforce strict safety measures in the 88 elephant’s corridors. A theses measure has to be implemented in its letter and spirit.

Elephants are a revered animal in our country throughout history. However, they are now under siege from poachers and such negligent acts of some train drivers. These wanton killings of the elephants are telling on their population. India's wild elephant population was recently estimated at about 26,000.

There is urgent need to have concrete measures to protect these animals. The onus is on the civil society to raise their voices that there is no such brutal slaughter of elephant’s taking place in the country. If we do not wake up now, perhaps it may be too late.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at