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(Capt. Pandu Ranga Reddy) The Asaf Jahis identified with the ethos and pathos of Hyderabad Dominion. Whenever they lost some territory, they regarded as one of their parts of their body was amputated. The Berar was one.

Berar was the integral part of the H.E.H. Dominion and it is famous for black cotton soil and very rich area. However, owing to malaversation of the bureaucracy which was headed by the venal and malleable Chandulal, the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad, the finances were in red. The British coveted this region and wanted to grab. As the Nizam fell in arrears in payment to the maintenance of troops at Secunderabad, the Resident of Hyderabad coerced the Government of Hyderabad to borrow money from the William Palmer and Company to pay the arrears. This company advanced the loan @ 24% per annum. In this company, the British Resident of Hyderabad had shares. However, the then Governor-General of India, Dalhousie, took up the issue and agreed to clear the account of Palmer’s. A scheme was drawn up with the Nizam’s government under the districts of Berar were to be assigned to the British for a number of years until debt was paid-off. This treaty of 1853 contained a clause that any surplus over the administration should be handed to the Nizam and the British Government was bound to furnish account. However, the British honoured the agreement more in the breach than in the observance.

In 1857, the Nizam supported the British in the mutiny. Had he not supported, the British rule would have come to an end. The British as a typical Nation of Shopkeepers, it gave the Nizam an empty title of ‘Faithful Ally’ and to pander the ego of the Nizam, it allowed 21 gun salute and restituted Raichur and Osmanabad districts. However, they retained rich area of Berar. The Berar revenues had already redeemed the debt. Even after 50 years, the British did not return the area to the Nizam. We cannot apportion blame to Mahbub Ali, for, he was not even born.

In 1902, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India demanded Berar be leased to the British in perpetuity and came to conduct the negotiations in person. He and his staff spent two days closeted with Mahbub Ali Pasha, who permitted to have a single advisor in a room with him. Mahbub capitulated only when he was finally convinced that Berar would never under any circumstances be restored. His attitude towards the British did not soften correspondingly. After signing the agreement with Curzon forced out of him that effectively put control of the Berar districts – Akola, Amaravathi, Yeotmal and Buldhana in the hands of the British. Mahbub Ali was made a Knight Grand Cross Bath (GCB). However, he never forgotten the loss of Berar and sarcastically he used to call the honour of the G.C.B. as ‘Gave Curzon Berar’ !

(Captain Pandu Ranga Reddy is a renowned historian has done his Ph.D., F.R.A.S. (Lond.); F.R.N.S. (Eng.), M. R. Hist. S. (Lond.))