An argument against Andhra’s claim over Hyderabad

Photo: People belonging to all communities raise “Jai Telangana” slogans in front of historic Charminar

By: Madabhushi Sridhar,

Professor and Coordinator, Centre for Media Law and Public Policy, NALSAR University of Law Hyderabad

The history and geography of three capital cities – Bombay, Madras and Chandigarh deny the claim of Andhras over Hyderabad.

The mortgagee cannot claim ownership of land because he built permanent structures on the land. Similarly the investors of different region cannot claim that city to be their own because of their structures. Once a tenant, always a tenant.

When Gujaratis disputed the city of Bombay, this is what Dr. BR Ambedkar had said: “There is no foundation for the statement that the trade and industry of Bombay was built up by Gujarathis, the claim of mortgagor to his land cannot be defeated by the mortgagee on the ground that the mortgagee has built up permanent structures on the land. The Gujarathis assuming they have built up the trade and industry of Bombay are in no better position than a mortgagee is. But who have built up the trade and industry of Bombay seems to me quite irrelevant to the decision of the issue whether Bombay should or should not be included in Maharashtra. This argument based on monopoly of trade and industry is really a political argument. It means that the owners may rule the workers but the workers must not be allowed to rule the owners”.

The history and geography proves that Hyderabad is integral part of Telangana and thus should remain its capital. Hyderabad was capital of Hyderabad state for more than four hundred years, and a short span between 1956 and 2012 cannot lead to its deletion from Telangana for any other reason. The prolonged residence or business investments by some others cannot entitle them to claim the city as their own. 

Bombay for Marathas

The architect of Indian Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar said in a memorandum submitted to Linguistic States Commission in 1948, which is highly relevant in Telangana context especially when Coastal Andhra Businessmen are laying claim for Hyderabad. 

“…homogeneity of a people depends upon their having a belief in a common origin, in the possession of a common language and literature, in their pride in a common historic tradition, community of social customs, etc. is a proposition which no student of sociology can dispute. The absence of a social homogeneity in a State creates a dangerous situation especially where such a State is raised on a democratic structure. History shows that democracy cannot work in a State where the population is not homogeneous. In a heterogeneous population divided into groups which are hostile and anti-social towards one another the working of democracy is bound to give rise to cases of discrimination, neglect, partiality, suppression of the interests of one group at the hands of another group which happens to capture political power”.

Now the statements by businessmen-cum-politicians including some MPs in AP reflect the absence of homogeneity and their lack of concern for the people residing in this part of the state also indicating lack of integrity in spite of ‘living together’ for 56 years. It is venomous speech, if not hate speech against Telangana. It is immoral, anti-social and unbecoming of a leader. They need to understand Ambedkar and stop being hostile to Telangana, wherein they are making a living and huge profits at the cost of people in Telangana.

Ambedkar’s historic statements came in the context of Gujarathi Businessmen demanding Bombay as ‘their’ capital at the cost of Maharastrians before division of Bombay. As happening in Hyderabad now, a handful of investors are trying to hijack capital city from the its legitimate owners. Media highlighted proceedings of a small meeting held at Indian Merchants Centre by Gujarati-speaking merchants and industrialists in Bombay. Times of India, then also wrote an editorial in support of traders demand. As ‘discovered’ by Justice Srikrishna Committee, the media is mostly owned by rich politicians from Coastal districts and they air the anti-Telangana talk incessantly. They project interests of few merchants as more important than the interests of four crores of people.

Dr. Ambedkar brought out the unreasonableness of arguments of Gujarathi merchants demanding Bombay:

(1) Bombay was never a part of Maharashtra,

(2) Bombay was never a part of the Maratha Empire,

(3) The Marathi-speaking people do not form a majority of the population of the City of Bombay

(4) Gujarathis have been old residents of Bombay

(5) Bombay is a trade centre for vast areas outside Maharashtra. Therefore, they said, Bombay cannot be claimed by Maharashtra. It belongs to the whole of India

(6) It is the Gujarathi speaking people of Bombay who have built up the trade and industry of Bombay. The Maharashtrians have been only clerks and coolies. It would be wrong to place the owners of trade and industry under the political dominance of the working classes who form the bulk of Maharashtrians,

(7) Maharashtra wants Bombay to be included in Maharashtra because it wants to live on the surplus of Bombay

(8) A multi-lingual State is better. It is not so fatal to the liberty of smaller people and

(9) Regrouping of Provinces should be on rational lines and not on national lines.

The Seemandhra businessmen claiming Hyderabad, raise almost similar arguments. But this city was part of Hyderabad state and of Hyderabad empire, Telangana’s are in majority, in spite of flooding of migrants. The investors of Andhra are claiming that they have ‘developed’ Hyderabad, conveniently not talking about its 400 years of glory. In fact the Andhra rulers left old and historic city to the religious fundamentalist party having alliance with them just for their vote bank, Conceding demands of political ally, they criminally neglected the development of old city, instead developed huge colonies elsewhere. They have also resorted to inflame fires of communal disharmony in old city just to dislodge a Telangana Chief Minister.

Ambedkar strongly campaigned for Bombay for Marathas, by history and geography, he said: Geography has made Bombay part of Maharashtra. Let those who want to challenge the fact of nature do so. Gujarathis declared that even after five thousand years Marathis will not get Bombay, Andhra leaders are also say that Telangana would never come. 

To a question that Marathas were in minority and hence cannot claim Bombay, Ambedkar said, in British India, people were free to move and settle anywhere. If Marathas reduced to minority it is not their fault and that will not disentitle to own Bombay.

While Gujarathis claimed to have built industries in Bombay, Andhras claim that they built Hyderabad itself, as if it did not exist earlier. The pluralist society with Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Urdu speaking persons flourished together in harmony. Until the ruling parties started cheap tactics of inciting communal riots to dislodge a chief minister belonging to Telangana, there was no bloodletting old city. Even today the rulers liaison with Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and concede all their unreasonable demands except the development of old city. They developed colonies for Andhras and then they concentrated development only there. The so called jala yajnam has facilitated contractors to spend their advance amounts in real estate leading to artificial boom in land rates that ruined the life and culture of the farmers and other people in Rangareddy. 

Acting against recommendation of State Reorganization Commission, Maharastra without Bombay was created. In making Bombay a union territory for four years, Gujarathi lobby was successful, but the agitation of Marathis which took the toll of 80 people led to conversion of Bombay into capital city of Maharastra on May 1, 1960. Though the investor lobby could deny Marathas their city, it was only for a short while.

Madras for Tamils

Andhras made unreasonable claims twice over capitals – once for Madras and secondly for Hyderabad now. It was stated that the Telugu Kings granted land for Fort St George with a condition that Chennapatnam should flourish as Telugu city for ever. The official centre of the settlement founded in 1639 as designated as Fort St Geroge. While Chennapatnam was predominantly Telugu area, Madras Patnam expanded on the otherside. Two – Chennapatnam and Madras Patnam together came to be called as Madras. Andhras wanted north Madras as capital of Andhra and South Madras as capital of Tamil province.

Story of Chandigarh

Andhras quote Chandigarh to support their claim for Hyderabad. Chandigarh has only geographical continuity for being a common capital. It does not have any history to be claimed as unique capital of Punjab or Haryana exclusively. After Punjab was partitioned between Pakistan and India, there was a need to build new capital as India lost Lahore to Pakistan. A new and planned city was undertaken at a strategic location reflecting nation’s modern outlook. On 1 November 1966, the newly formed state of Haryana was carved out of eastern portion of the Punjab, in order to create Haryana as a majority Hindi speaking state, while the western portion of Punjab retained a mostly Punjabi-speaking majority. However, the city of Chandigarh was both on the linguistic and physical border, and was thus created into a union territory to serve as capital of both these states. Recently there are claims and counter claims for Chandigarh as exclusive capital by both Punjab and Haryana. Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal raked up the Chandigarh issue in CM’s conference to which Haryana CM reciprocated strongly. This shows being a joint capital of two states with a status of Union Territory is no solution to the contentious problem. The Punjab Governor remains Administrator of Chandigarh on behalf of the Centre while Punjab and Haryana having stakes at 60:40 ratio. The secretariats and assemblies of both the states and headquarters of most departments are located in Chandigarh itself. They have a common Punjab and Haryana High Court. Now the Haryana is demanding separate Haryana High Court within Chandigarh. This shows how Chandigarh remains problematic as common capital. 

Under any circumstances Hyderabad cannot be the capital of Andhra and it is inevitable to remain a capital of Telangana. But handing over the control of Hyderabad to Center is neither proper nor democratic. Hyderabad is as much most unwieldy and traffic reached its uncontrollable levels. If it is made common capital for two (or three states) with a UT status it has to have three headquarters which compound the problems and complicate living.

The history of Bombay and Madras laid strong foundation to deny the Andhras’ claim over Hyderabad and Chandigarh example does not justify their demand for Telangana Capital. Chandigarh could be common capital because of its geographical congruity which Hyderabad is lacking. Andhras or Seema leaders will not be reasonable if they claim Hyderabad for historical and geographical reasons and making it common capital will not add any value to Andhras except satisfying their ego of denying Telangana their own capital partly or temporarily.

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