UGC adds to Telangana Liberation Day-vs-Integration Day debate, asks universities to toe Centre line

The TRS and the BJP have locked horns over the day, with the former calling it "Liberation" while the latter says it is "Integration".

ByAjay Tomar

Published Sep 16, 2022 | 5:41 PM Updated Sep 16, 2022 | 5:42 PM

While the BJP is repeatedly emphasizing recognising the day as 'Telangana Liberation Day', TRS is referring to it as 'Telangana Integration Day' with backing from AIMIM.  (Creative Commons)

As Telangana gears up for a showdown on 17 September, the day in 1956 when the erstwhile state of Hyderabad merged with the Union of India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Tuesday, 13 September, appealed to the universities in Telangana to celebrate “Telangana Liberation Day“.

The letter comes amid a face-off between the TRS and the BJP on the nomenclature of the day.

Written by UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain, the letter includes a list of activities that the universities can carry out on 17 September, and also asks them to hoist the national flag.

The activities mentioned included street plays, marches, exhibitions, social media awareness, quizzes, essays, and other competitions for children.

Noted political expert G Haragopal criticised the UGC for the letter.

UGC guidelines for 'Telangana Liberation Day'. (Supplied)

UGC guidelines for “Telangana Liberation Day”. (Supplied)

“The UGC is not supposed to do these types of functions. This liberation and integration debate is already politically controversial. What is the need for the UGC to interfere and appeal to universities to celebrate liberation day? It sets a wrong precedent,” he told South First.

Mentioning the UGC Act, he said, “I don’t think the Act would give the UGC such powers. Its primary nomenclature is that it is a grants commission. Even the Radhakrishnan Commission (set up under the chairmanship of former President S Radhakrishnan) said that function of the state was to fund higher education and leave universities for their self-governance,”

The former dean of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Hyderabad also said that such a move would prove to be very counterproductive in the long run, as UGC becoming part of the larger political process would erode the autonomy of the universities.

“Now the UGC office is becoming a unit run by the ministry. It is dragging universities into political controversies. So it, not a desirable step on the part of the UGC, which should not have done this,” Haragopal noted.

South First contacted Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Indira Reddy, who claimed that she is not aware of the UGC letter and the guidelines.

Liberation Day vs Integration Day

The UGC letter has again put the spotlight on why political parties are at opposite ends of Hyderabad’s “liberation” and “integration” debate.

Former member of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council K Nageshwar thinks that the BJP wants to promulgate a polarised narrative with its “liberation day” push.

“The BJP wants to promote anti-Nizam sentiments and fan the Hindu-Muslim debate for political gains. It is trying to distort the facts of history by calling it liberation, but it is not. Muslim leaders like Makdum Moinuddin and others were part of the anti-Nizam struggle, whereas Hindu landlords supported the Nizams. So, this anti-feudal, anti-monarchy struggle of the masses of Telangana was against Hindu landlords,” he told South First.

While the BJP is repeatedly emphasising that the day be called Telangana Liberation Day, the TRS is referring to it as the Telangana Integration Day, with backing from the AIMIM.

The political adversaries revealed their plans for a showdown on 17 September.

The BJP government at the Centre, which has been aggressively trying to establish a foothold in Telangana ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, announced year-long celebrations, while the K Chandrashekar Rao-led state government declared three-day celebrations for the occasion.

With the Munugode Assembly bypolls on the horizon, the TRS and the BJP have been at loggerheads over this and several other issues.

The BJP has been celebrating Telangana Liberation Day over the past few years, but on a smaller scale.

However, after winning two crucial bypolls in the Huzurabad and Dubbak Assembly constituency in the past two years and putting up a splendid performance in the 2020 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, the party seems to have sped up its “Mission Telangana”.

From Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay comparing Hyderabad to Pakistan due to its high Muslim population to Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking to celebrate 17 September as the Liberation Day because that day Hindus apparently gained freedom from the rule of Razakars, polarisation seems a way of the BJP trying to establish itself in Telangana.

Shah will be kicking off this year’s celebrations in Secunderabad’s Parade Grounds in a programme organised by the Union Ministry of Culture.

“I want to ask, who liberated whom in the anti-Nizam struggle? He indeed surrendered and the people of Telangana wanted him to leave, but the Nizam was neither punished nor jailed even after police action on 17 September, 1948 — in what is called Operation Polo,” said Haragopal.

“Instead, he was made Rajpramukh (appointed governor). The then Union Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel designated him the governor of Telangana. Even Kasim Razvi was released from jail, but with conditions,” added the political analyst, claiming that it was not liberation from the Nizam’s rule because he continued as the governor.

‘Integration with India, not liberation’ 

Asked whether the people of Telangana are truly liberated, Haragopal pointed out that even today feudal dominance, feudal ideology, untouchability, and tribal people’s issues exist in Telangana.

“If it was liberation, then all these problems would have been solved and Telangana would have been a completely different state. If this would have been the case, why would the people of Telangana have fought for separation from Andhra Pradesh in 2014?” he observed.

He said the historical event was not liberation but integration with the Union of India.

Haragopal added that BJP was using its own version of history as it eyes next year’s election.

“The BJP is raking up the issue because its hopes in Telangana have gone up and it is desperate to have a foothold in South India. This is because it calls itself a national party, with but does not have a stronghold in the south,” Haragopal told South First.