Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad | Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad | Photo: Wikipedia Commons
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New Delhi: To say that Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, was wealthy, would be to put it lightly. The richness of his treasury was, in fact, legendary. So much so that he used the Jacobi diamond, a 185-carat gem the size of a lime, as a paperweight.

The Nizam’s family had ruled Hyderabad since the early 18th century; yet he was the only ruler in British India who enjoyed the title of Exalted Highness owing to his contribution of £25 million to the British exchequer during the First World War.

And a few days ahead of India’s independence, he deposited an amount of £1 million in his account at the Westminster Bank in London. The money remained untouched for nearly 71 years and accumulated to about £35 million, or Rs 306 crore as valued in 2019, when a British judge finally ruled for the Nizam’s descendants to collect it from London’s National Westminster Bank.

Yet the man had an oddly modest appearance — wearing the same tattered fez for 35 years and mostly cotton pyjamas. Of course, he had his indulgences — the nizam had a prodigious sexual appetite, and it is said, had more than 100 illegitimate children.

His public image too was conflicting. While on the one hand he was hailed for being a progressive ruler, who brought in measures such as the abolition of bonded labour and the separation of the judiciary from the executive in the state, post-independence India remembers him primarily for his opposition to joining the union of India in 1947, one of the five rulers at the time to do so. The others included the Nawab of Junagadh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III and the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanvant Singh.

Which explains why, since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in 2014, into AP and Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been pressurising the K. Chandrashekar Rao-led Telangana government to celebrate 17 September — the day Hyderabad ceased to be an independent state — as “Liberation Day” from the ‘tyrannical rule of the Nizam’. So far though, the state has managed to evade the subject.

On Mir Osman Ali’s 135 birth anniversary on 6 April, ThePrint looks back at the chequered life of this former royal.


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Architect of modern Hyderabad

Born in 1886, to Mahbub Ali Khan and Amat-uz-Zahra Begum, Osman Ali succeeded to the throne of Hyderabad in 1911. During the next 37 years of his tenure as Nizam, extending till 1948, he established many public institutions such as the Osmania General Hospital and the State Bank of Hyderabad and also commissioned the construction of the Begumpet Airport and the Hyderabad High Court.

Even before assuming responsibility as Nizam though, Osman Ali, was alert to the needs of his future subjects – in 1908, three years before his coronation, he initiated the construction of two reservoirs, Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar, after the Musi River floods killed thousands in the state.

In 1918, he established the Osmania University, India’s first university to have Urdu as the medium of instruction. The ‘bold’ move drew the attention of Nobel Laureate-poet Rabindranath Tagore, who applauded it and declared that he was overjoyed to see the day when Indians are “freed from the shackles of a foreign language and our education becomes naturally accessible to all our people”.

And though he had been averse to joining the Indian union, in the aftermath of the 1965 war with Pakistan, the Nizam is said to have donated a record 5,000 kg of gold (Rs 1,600 crore in today’s valuation), to the National Defence Fund. While there are conflicting accounts about this, Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, one of the grandsons of the seventh Nizam, had last year reaffirmed that Osman Ali donated the said amount.


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Annexation of Hyderabad

Yet, the state’s integration into India was a violent one.

According to historians, Osman Ali Khan’s refusal to integrate Hyderabad with India outraged the country’s leaders in New Delhi. “Osman Ali Khan was a ruler who was determined that his own power should not be diminished, a power based not upon religion but upon traditional concepts of kingship,” former IAS officer, V. K. Bawa, wrote in his book, The Last Nizam: The Life and Times of Mir Osman Ali Khan.

The Congress government was irked at the idea of a Muslim-led state taking root in the heart of a predominantly-Hindu India, especially after Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah pledged to defend the oldest Muslim dynasty in India.

It was around this time, in 1948, that one of the worst episodes of communal tension started in India, after the Razakar militia led by Kasim Rizvi allegedly unleashed violence against Hindus in the state, to resist the integration of Hyderabad into India.

Observing the Nizam’s inability to suppress the growing turmoil within the state, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru launched Operation Polo, as part of which 37,000 Indian troops defeated the Razakars within five days, in September 1948, and took over Hyderabad. However, according to the Sunderlal Committee report of 1948, nearly 40,000 Muslims had been massacred in communal violence during those five days, in districts like Osmanabad, Bidar and Gulbarga.

After Hyderabad became a part of India, Mir Osman Ali was given the title of Rajpramukh of Hyderabad State, which he held between 1950 to 1956. After this, the territory of the erstwhile state was divided between Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.


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A lasting legacy

During an election campaign ahead of the Telangana assembly elections in 2018, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, attacked Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the Hyderabad-based All India Majli-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, and said that “If the BJP comes to power, I assure you Owaisi will have to flee from Telangana the same way the Nizam was forced to flee from Hyderabad.”

Owaisi had responded that the seventh Nizam never fled from Hyderabad, but retained his position as the governor of the state till it was abolished in 1956.

In the past five years, BJP pressure on the Telangana government to declare 17 September, as ‘Liberation Day’ from the “tyrannical rule of the Nizam” has been mounting.

Local history, however, remembers the Nizam differently. The website of The Nizam’s Museum in Hyderabad records that when Osman Ali died, on 24 February 1967, “the streets and pavements of the city were littered with the pieces of broken glass bangles as an incalculable number of women broke their bangles in mourning as is the Telangana custom on the death of a close relative.”

This report has been updated to reflect that the claim that the seventh Nizam donated 5,000 kg of gold to the National Defence Fund is disputed, and that there are conflicting accounts about this.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


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54 COMMENTS

  1. Dear,
    To stop the bloodshed, he surrender his state, for which he and his previous generations worked so much. And after he surrendered what happened?, the so called Hindus came and looted hyderabad. Damn the British were right, to dogs this country has gone to.

  2. Mir Osman Ali tried his best to make Hyderabad remain an independent State but he did not succeed.

    He was the biggest financier of Muhammed Ali Jinnah and Pakistan, when it was created.

    To attain his ambition of remaining independent, he made Qasim Rizvi the PM. The “Razzakars” under him carried out massive atrocities on the Hindus.

    Undoubtedly he was a long serving monarch, who added to the glory of Hyderabad State. He was a farsighted administrator. He was a loyal Ally of the British and gave generous grants from the State coffers to support their wartime needs. But he was never a democrat or secular person. Vallabhai Patel ensured that he was held in high esteem even after the merger of Hyderabad. That is “statesmanship”. To create a united Nation, we have to know our past truthfully, and then give full opportunity to the genius of our various different types of people and religions to attain their capabilities and learn to live in peace. We in India have succeeded in this regard to a great extent.

    • Mr. Achutan why you ignored that what happened when Indian army massacred nearly 40,000 muslim people in three districts in five days period. If nothing was happened why sunderlal committee was constituted and it’s findings never made public

      Don’t try to supress the real facts.

  3. I think this may be true. But I strongly believe that history is manipulated infavour of Nizams as they had power.
    As a resident of Telangana state , we know that these Nizam ruling was a nightmare for general public. Till today people to rural Telangana explains about arrogance, inhumane practices and mishandling of women, Children. This is not my opinion. This is the direct feedback from eye witnesses of Nizams arrogance towards Normal public.
    Jai Telangana!! Jai Hind!!!

  4. Operation polo was actually planned and commissioned by Sardar vallabhai patel and not the Jawahar Lal Nehru… Don’t twist the fact to please anyone. Actually the operation was planned during the absence of Nehru from his office with Mountbatten s partner…. Please read the history before making any historical statement

  5. The Print has taken a bold initiative to bridge the ever widening gap between communal lines! No one can ever ignore the generous contributions of the HEH the Nizam of Hyderabad to our nation building especially his contributions to Benarus Hindu University (BHU) which received a ‘grant’ of ₹50 lacs in the late 1950’s ! There are many more such unknown generous donations which may be verified with the Nizam’s Trust in Hyderabad and the Govt. of India records available with the concerned departments! At least in Hyderabad this kind of polluted hatred over any religion still is virtually non existent ! His contributions to the richness of heritage and global appeal of Hyderabad is a legacy left behind by HEH the Nizam and will remain deeply inscribed in Indian History! The Print is a brave and fair platform for such authentic news ! Kudos to you the Print! You will face more flak on this article but that is the fate of honest journalism!

    • When you are commenting, atleast check the validity of the information. The nizam of hyderabad threw a slipper at Madan Mohan Malviya, the freedom fighter who set up BHU. Malviya auctioned the slipper which helped him raise the 50 lac ‘donation’ you are talking about. If you already knew this then please stop spreading your fake propaganda. If you were unaware of this then please get your facts right and stop commenting without any knowledge about the matter. It really hurts how you change stories to fit your propaganda and the man who threw slipper became the man who donated.

  6. ‘the nizam had a prodigious sexual appetite, and it is said, had more than 100 illegitimate children’.
    Mentioned like a passing comment & no feminist bothered about it!
    Maybe the measuring scales are different for ruffians, locals & royals!
    For the wealth he had, he kept his region in such utter illiteracy & 1 University is being lauded !
    Diamond as a paper weight, ‘I love it’ , there is class!
    Wearing cotton pyjamas, shows his sence of freedom/ guts to wear what he wants (especially in Hyderabad summers … He had sence)

    • Truth is that in which Hindus should be obligated to muslims if they are killed
      Cheap people like Hindus should die willingly at Muslim hands

  7. The massacres of muslims in the 5 days is “reported” where as the massacre of Hindus is “alleged”……..Long live pseudo secularism

  8. Print does a good job in the PRINT ! Keep up the good work. We will ignore the venom of some snakes in your comments. They ste incapable of understanding the greater good that Nizam 9f Hyderabad did for his people.

  9. Its true that this king had constructed these public institutions as mentioned in the article And we still use them in telangana till date and u can still find temple built by the nizams in the golconda fort which shows they r in harmony with other religions however we need not argue about the past kings anymore just need to progress in the present and Telangana is now a very good place to live and we have plenty of opportunities for our present and future thats all matters.

  10. All the debates and journalism aside…why wasn’t the erstwhile State the best and well-known across the country or maybe World

  11. Founder of Nizam dynasty were traitors .

    (1) They were instrumental to invite Nader Shah to invade India .
    (2) They Ditched Moghul emperor during war with Nader Shah at battle of Karnak.
    (3) Nizam was instrumental to encourage Nader Shah to loot Delhi.
    (4) His extended family was governor of Lahore at time when Nader Shah invaded India .
    (5) Sabotaged efforts of Nawab of Awadh to defeat Nader Shah at battle of Karnak
    (6) Established his rule at Hyderabad against moghuls
    (7) Always played tricks against Maratha Power.
    (8) Shifted their loyalty in favour of British
    (9) This family was instrumental to pioneer rule of British in South.

    This family is a Blot on Indian History

    • You are a animal and a devilish thinker who gave you birth will also think what a mistake they have done in the life you fool your comment is rawana first know the world history and Indian history and history will not be erased true is true if you want to be a human being then think of the comment thu thu thu good for nothing you will be punished in this life only very soon wait and watch

    • According to you Muslim’s are not a human being they belong to the other planets. You are novice and you don’t know the history. Before writing put off communal glass from the eyes. Lastly I will prey to Almighty God please enlighten the gentleman with vision of good thinking.

    • You don’t need to be a “bhakt” to point out thier propaganda and how they have manipulated the history in this article to please a community.

  12. The author and publisher both should go to piggyland (i.e. Pakistan) to reside. Bloody pigs.
    We don’t need traitors here. Shoo! Shoo! Go away.

  13. The next article to guess would be on some terrorist obviously whitewashed.
    We don’t need such rubbish person to know. There were so many revolutionaries, why don’t you write about them.
    Instead you are publishing article on this mean-minded, self-centred person who’s nothing but a royal rubbish.
    He stood against us and how could you decorate an Anti-India ideology?
    PLEASE DON’T FORGET OUR SOLDIERS ON THE FRONT WHO ARE MARTYRED PROTECTING US.
    STUDY BEFORE YOU PUBLISH.

  14. Actually you peoples can’t digest the fact be brave honest to accept it. And I thing Google doing great job.

  15. O bhai you forgot the kindness of HEH Nizam sarkar who says hindu & muslims leftt & right eyes to me. And if heh Nizam was not at that time u well not here to say all stupidity & you will be slave to Angrazz & HEH nizam give plenty of money to British to keep safe us from them right even the HEH nizam give many time much money to india war against china & he donate many times to indian government even he donates/ pension every month to mandirs & masjid all india for that I can say your generation is alive bcoz of nizam. And i can keep on writing his good kindness towards u people but coming generation forgetting their foundation dau to that change in atmosphere.

    • Great, but there’s Full of BJP IT cell is working behind this agenda to make all the Muslim rulers as to create bad image for the current generation….

  16. This is completely fake news
    Based on fake YouTube video and without any proper investigation.

  17. This is such an amatuerish & trashy piece! Wonder how it got through your desk, leave alone the Editor. In Hyderabad, this article would have been spiked & the reporter moved to gossip page….

  18. this article completely misses out the excesses committed either by the Nizam or his court or razakars . Disappointed with The Print
    i dont understand , how can one enjoy the sadistic pleasure of whitewashing Islamic iconoclasm in India.
    shall we discredit the excesses of army in NE… what say TZ ?

  19. Kasim Rizvi “allegedly” unleashed violence against Hindus in the state.- White washing the crimes committed against Hindus has become a past time for these “Eminent Intellectuals. “
    A pathetic article on a Tyrant with no primary sources to back it, looks like the standards at The Print are dropping.

  20. How shame! You talk about his wealth and sexual obsession and huge number of illegal children and still project him as the Gandhi of muslims. Where do you think all that wealth was acquired from and all the sexual obsession was exerted on? And you call it was violent take over. What an ironic view!

  21. Ignoring hundreds of ethical Hindu Kings, the Print will glorify a butcher just because he is a Muslim. Well, nothing else is expected from The Print. What’s worse? Google shows its articles.

  22. It is not Pandit Nehru who launched operation polo ,
    But Sardar Vallabh bhai patel who gave the go ahead
    For operations polo and sad that the people of telangana have not put India’s tallest Sardar statue
    In Hyderabad.

  23. Blatant lies written by author of this article without any research. Don’t mislead people with Your ill informed article.

    If author want any further informationhe he can contact me by mail

  24. Fully agree with Reddy and percussionist.
    The writer is known for her highly buased and prejudiced views. Nizam’s legacy meant Telengana was reeling in poverty, despite having Adequate water and natural resources. In sharp contrast coastal andhra with good rajahs, followed good democratic traditions andsaw good prosperity.

  25. The whole Nizam dynasty was secular and the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur in particular has left several examples of his secularists ruling period you can see the structure of osmania university building which represents the multi cultural model of all the religious sculptures..he donated 100000 rupees to Banaras Hindu university where as donated 50000 rupees to Aligarh Muslim university. He presented gifts to several Hindu temples and he used to say that both Hindu and Muslim are like my two eyes his prime minister was Sir Kishan Pershad. The one bombed his car with hand granite was not only pardoned but gifted with handsome amount..
    I request to remove the communal thinking of the current situation and adopt his policies for the development of our state and country.

  26. Do not give credit to Mr Nehru where it’s not due. It was Sardar Patel who as Home Minister was instrumental in the handling of the Hyderabad issue.

  27. You are protecting dictator as M Gandhi, shame on you. Our generation have faced worst of there life. We will never accept this rubbish.

  28. An RTI enquiry makes it clear that the claim of donating gold is false. He only deposited 4.25 lakh grams of gold with the National Defence Gold fund which was returned along with interest.
    On the contrary, 1.25 lakh grams of gold was donated by the Tirumala (Tirupati) temple along with ₹8 lakhs as donation.

  29. And if this is what you call a fair and impartial journalism, shame on you. The article very cleverly and selectively present the picture of the nizam that serves the author’s agenda alone.

    • Ok accourding to you the story was cleverly written , for a while think it could be your fath who could have done every great work what this Nizam had done , how greatly you could have wrote ,

  30. The article is misleading –
    1. Sunderlal report says that 27000 to 40000 lives were lost during and after the revolt ( operation polo). No where does the report mention that all of lost lives belong to Muslim Community. How convenient of the author to simply state that 40000 Muslims were massacred
    2. As far as the donation of the Nizam goes (in the aftermath of 1965 war), there’s no conclusive evidence either. The link shared in the article highlights that except a newspaper article in the Hindu, there’s no proof either. How come the author writes with such confidence that the donation has happened?

  31. Politics around the Nizam issue aside , I want to tell about two interesting aspects I came across when I visited Salar Jung Museum.
    1)Mir Osman Ali was a Freemason, there was a pic of him along with other Freemasons from different countries, was told be hosting masonic activities in Hyderabad.
    2) There was a small Chinese toy replica of Shitzu dog among gifts given to him during abroad visits.

  32. A French lackey, and later a British lackey who grew on the depredations of Indians and paid his British masters huge sums of money to get meaningless titles from them. His progenies employed killer armies called Razakars who maimed and raped Indians.

    No wonder we Indians are gripped with Marxist Historiography which has eulogized our tormentors.

  33. Nizam is the butcher of Hindus in Telangana, he supported and want to merge Nizam state with Pakistan, he created Razakars under Qasim Razvi and mascaras Thousands of Hindus and raped Hindu women , please please donot white wash his crimes, all Islamic Jihadists in history are white washed by Leftist Historians and Leftist media prapogated. My grand parents were butchered by these Rajakars.
    PS : Qasim Razvi started MIM party and our beloved Secularists and Nationalist Asaudin Owisi , present AIMIM president!!!

    • This article is a COMPLETE whitewash. It is making me seethe in anger that the Print has even published it. I will need to rethink about the Print Subscription for publishing such FAKE NEWS.

      The article says ‘ It was around this time, in 1948, that one of the worst episodes of communal tension started in India, after the Razakar militia led by Kasim Rizvi allegedly unleashed violence against Hindus in the state, to resist the integration of Hyderabad into India.’ Allegedly?! ALLEGEDLY?!! Anyone with a basic reading of history will know the level of violence against Hindus in Hyderabad state.

      Also, NO mention of Sardar Patel who launched Operation Polo – NOT Nehru. Left to Nehru, he would have allowed a mini Pakistan inside India.

      Owaisi is a Razakar waiting for the time when he can come in power and finish off Hindus across the erstwhile Hyderabad state.
      This article if FAKE HISTORY. Poor quality journalism and editorial standards by The Print.

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