When the Nizam lost in a battle of cables

Seventy years ago, on September 17, 1948, at noon, Hyderabad ceased to exist as a princely state after a war that lasted all of 109 hours. It would have gone on for longer had India not been able to stymie the former kingdom’s attempts to procure weapons for a protracted conflict. Hyderabad became part of India more than a year after the latter’s existence as an independent nation. Ruled by the hereditary ruler Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 2,12,000 sq km kingdom fancied its chance as an independent country. Standstill Agreement Unlike the Instrument of Accession with India signed by other princely states at the time of Independence, the Nizam nominated a three-member team to negotiate a Standstill Agreement. The Agreement, signed on November 29, 1947 by Governor General Lord Mountbatten and Nizam Osman Ali Khan, specified that it would be valid for one year and that foreign affairs, defence and communications would be in India’s control while the Nizam had control over domestic affairs. Declassified diplomatic cables between India War Office Staff, the Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) and the U.K. Foreign Office, archived in the British Library, reveal that immediately after Independence, India played a high-stakes diplomatic game in London to stem the flow of arms to Hyderabad in November 1947. This shortage of weapons ultimately forced the Hyderabad army to surrender within four days with limited Indian casualties. The Nizam scouted for arms across the board — trying to buy them from France, tapping Pakistan for supplies and finally turning to gun-runners — the role of Australia-born aviator Sidney Cotton’s role in the transport of weapons from Karachi to Hyderabad is the stuff of legend. But the role of Indian diplomats in stalling the flow at the source is less known, carried out by hidden channels.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/when-the-nizam-lost-in-a-battle-of-cables/article24959181.ece

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