As India turns 70, here are a few tales of heroes lost in history

Syed Naseer Ahmed

Syed Akbar

Not many know that the freedom movement against the British rule was quite strong in the princely state of Hyderabad. The Nizam was the `faithful ally’ of the British and he had always ensured that the voice of dissent against the foreign rule was curbed with an iron hand.

However, braving the Nizam’s wrath, hundreds of people joined the Indian National Congress and mounted attack against the British. Even long before the Congress was formed in 1885, Hyderabad had its own freedom heroes in the form of Turrebaz Khan and Moulvi Alauddin, who led an armed fight against the British Residency.

According to historian and author Syed Naseer Ahmed, Hyderabadis stood by Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Moulana Azad and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. If one Hyderabadi (Abid Hasan Safrani) had coined the most patriotic slogan, Jai Hind, another (Shoebullah Khan) fell dead to the bullets of Razakars. Yet another (Mir Akbar Ali Khan) preferred to fight for the merger of Hyderabad with Indian Union to holding the coveted post of the prime minister. He turned down the offer of prime ministership.

Naseer Ahmed, author of The Immortals, a pictorial guide on Muslim freedom fighters, told TOI that “There were revolutionary poets and women fighters too in Hyderabad. The princely state had also sent one of the first freedom fighters (Moulvi Alauddin) to the notorious cellular jail in the Andaman,” he adds. The fight against the British rule began in Hyderabad on July 17, 1857 and continued for 91 years till the merger of Hyderabad with Indian Union on September 17, 1948.

As Independent India turns 70, many Hyderabadi heroes, who changed the course of freedom movement in Hyderabad, continue to remain unsung.


Moulvi Syed Alauddin, Imam of Makkah Masjid, was angry that the Nizam was supporting the British. He intensified his fight against the British rule in 1857 during the first war of Independence. There was a rebellion against the British in Aurangabad, which was under the Nizam rule. The freedom fighters in a bid to escape arrest came to Hyderabad. But the Nizam took them into custody. Moulvi Alauddin and Turrebaz Khan (Turrum Khan) held a meeting on July 17, 1857 after the Friday prayers at Makkah Masjid and mounted an attack on the British Residency.

After the attack Moulvi Alauddin and Turrebaz Khan escaped and went underground. Later, Khan was arrested and hanged. Alauddin was sent to the cellular jail in Andaman where he died in 1884 after 25 years of incarceration.

Mullah Abdul Qayyum Khan, a close friend of Aghore Nath Chattopadhyay, the founder-principal of the Nizam College, was the first Muslim leader from Hyderabad to join the Indian National Congress in December 1885. He led the anti-Chanda railway project struggle much to the chagrin of the Nizam. It was the first open defiance of the Nizam.

Syed Badrul Hassan was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He worked as a reporter in the Young India. He also organised Tilak Swarajya Nidhi funds and collect Rs 23,000. Badrul Hasan was the first person in Hyderabad to burn foreign goods in response to Swadeshi movement.

Shoebullah Khan, after graduating from Osmania University, worked for Urdu weekly, Tez. His revolutionary writings forced the Nizam to ban it.  He launched own publication, Imroz, on November 15, 1947 and wrote editorials demanding that Hyderabad join the Indian Union. The Razakars chopped off his hands and shot at him on August 21, 1948. He died the next day.

Syed Nasir Hassan led students of the City College in 1946 against the detention of soldiers of the Azad Hind Fouz. Later, he led a movement to bring pressure on the Nizam to accede to Indian Union.

Poet Dr Makhdoom Mohiuddin fought against the British and the Nizam, who supported the foreign rule. He was a member of the Congress as well as the Communist Party. He left government service and joined Quit India Movement. The Nizam government imprisoned him in 1942. He was the father of the trade union movement in Telugu states. The Nizam banned his writings.

Syed Fakhrul Hajiya Hassan was a woman freedom fighter. Her sons are famous as Hyderabad Hassan Brothers. She led Swadeshi and non-cooperation movements among women. She commanded so much respect that leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji used to address her as “Amma Jan”.

Baqar Ali Mirza drafted the historical statement advising the Nizam to accede to the Indian Union much to the chagrin of the Razakars. He was lodged in jail for fighting against the British.

Syed Abid Hassan Safrani was a soldier of Indian National Army. He quit college to participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement. He met Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Germany and worked as his secretary for two years from 1942. He coined the famous slogan, Jai Hind.

Mir Akbar Ali Khan actively participated in the Khilafat and non-cooperation movement. He rejected the request to oppose the boycott by the representatives of Nizam including Sir Akbar Hyderi. He was a strong opponent of Razakar leader Qasim Rizvi.

Mullah Abdul Basit was the son of Mullah Abdul Qayyum, the famous `renaissance’ leader of Hyderabad state. His newspaper, Khadim, was opposed to the imperial powers. He demanded that the Nizam merge Hyderabad with India and disband Razakars. Khadim was banned by the Nizam.

Jamalunnisa Baji had stood against the British and the Nizam establishment. She was a staunch Communist and sheltered freedom fighters.

Fareed Mirza resigned government job to participate in the movement for the merger of Hyderabad with Indian Union. He appealed to Muslims to speak out against the repression of Razakars. He was branded a traitor for opposing the Nizam and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

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