Hyderabad exercised ‘NRC’ 71 years ago soon after its merger

Hyderabad: The City is soon to set mark 71 years of its merger into the Indian Union, it may be recalled the city had been through NRC-kind exercise immediately after Independence.

The drive initiated to send so called foreigners by the saffron party, NRC has become a trending topic nowadays with many BJP giving out bold statements regarding carrying out NRC through out the nation, TOI reports.

Back then the drive to deport `foreigners’ from Hyderabad on the lines of the NRC was taken up soon after the Police Action on September 17, 1948. And thousands including those living here for generations were identified and sent to detention camps.

Speaking of the exercise, which was similar to today’s NRC- exercise, had all the trappings of NRC and the detainees were kept in camps behind barbed wire and under armed guard, while women and children were kept in separate enclosures.

Since women and children including those born in Hyderabad did not have separate rights of nationality those days under international law, they were declared as aliens in Hyderabad, if their fathers or husbands were declared aliens.

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 Researcher Dr Taylor C Sherman carefully sifted through the Hyderabad documents at the National Archives in the UK to dig out the details. She also accessed communication between the military administrator in Hyderabad with the Indian government between 1948 and 1950.

Sherman, Associate Professor in the department of international history, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) studied Hyderabad’s citizenship exercise which was later published in Cambridge University Press Journal which revealed 6,225 people settled several decades prior to Police Action, held in detention camps were not only Arabs, afghans but also included Pakistani nationals who were born during British India.

Sherman’s work revealed the Indian government intended to deport these ‘foreigners’ on the advice of military-administrator J N Choudhury after he took over Hyderabad’s administration charge since its merger.

“But the attempt to repatriate these people floundered on both political and legal shoals. In the process, many were left legally stateless,” said researcher Dr Taylor C Sherman.

After the merger of Hyderabad, she writes, “the people of the state did not automatically become Indian citizens. It was not until the Citizenship Act of 1955 that persons belonging to princely states were formally made citizens of India. The legal status of the people of Hyderabad, including those in detention, was uncertain. At this stage, therefore, formal legal rules about who had the right to stay in India were less significant than ad hoc notions about who belonged in India.”

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Initially, the Indian government had proposed to deport these aliens without consulting with their governments but the detention and proposed deportation raised the prospect that any action to deport these people would have unpleasant consequences for Indian communities overseas.

“Many of those whom the government had wished to deport had no home to be sent to, at least not in law. Thus, very few of the “undesirable” Afghans were deported. After nearly three years of negotiations with the Saudi government, around two dozen men, who claimed to be from Saudi Arabia could not be sent home. The government of Hyderabad was left to conclude, “the presence of these 23 persons in Hyderabad is not going to make any difference to the state. And they too were released from detention,” Shermang noted.

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