IRON MAN OF INDIA
"Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's dream to make United of India. They were known for his Iron will and indomitable courage. They brought about the merge of 565 of princely states with the Indian Union and became the architect of the integrity of India."
"honest in word and deed, they were hero among heroes, lion among men. Today we require this kind of thought and determination to make India powerful again and fulfill his dream."
But the rulers of Junagadh and Hyderabad were plotting secretly to Join Pakistan. Patel sent an army under Brigadier Gurudayalsimha to the border of Junagadh to deal with Pakistan. The people of the state who wished to join India rebelled against the ruler and set up a People's Government. The Nawab, who had tried to betray the people, ran away. Patel reached Junagadh on the 12th of November 1947. In the course of a speech there, hewarned that the Nizam of Hyderabad would share the fate of the Nawab of Junagadh if he did not behave sensibly.
Junagadh was especially important to Patel, since it was in his home state of Gujarat. The Nawab had under pressure from Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto acceded to Pakistan. It was however, quite far from Pakistan and 80% of its population was Hindu. Patel combined diplomacy with force, demanding that Pakistan annul the accession, and that the Nawab accede to India. He sent the Army to occupy three principalities of Junagadh to show his resolve.
But the Nizam was slow to learn thelesson. He sent millions of rupees to Pakistan.One of his men, Kasim Razvi by name, began to harass the Hindus. His gang was called the Razakars. They tried to drive the Hindus out of Hyderabad. There was no limit to their crimes. They tried to get arms and ammunition from outside.
Finally Sardar Patel sent some forces under General Chowdury to undertake 'Police Action'. Within five days the Nizam was forced to surrender. Kasim Razvi ran away to Pakistan. The atrocities of the Razakars came to an end and peace returned to Hyderabad. The firm policy of Sardar Patel, the Man of Iron, crushed all the plots against India.
Following widespread protests and the formation of a civil government, or Aarzi Hukumat, both Bhutto and the Nawab fled to Karachi, and under Patel's orders, Indian Army and police units marched into the state. A plebiscite later organised produced a 99.5% vote for merger with India. In a speech at the Bahauddin College in Junagadh following the latter's take-over, Patel emphasised his feeling of urgency on Hyderabad, which he felt was more vital to India than Kashmir:
“ If Hyderabad does not see the writing on the wall, it goes the way Junagadh has gone. Pakistan attempted to set off Kashmir against Junagadh. When we raised the question of settlement in a democratic way, they (Pakistan) at once told us that they would consider it if we applied that policy to Kashmir. Our reply was that we would agree to Kashmir if they agreed to Hyderabad
A similar problem arose in Kashmir. The Maharaja and the Legislative Assembly decided that the state should join India. But the Pakistan army forcibly occupied two-fifths of Kashmir. The Ministry was handling the Kashmir question for Foreign Affairs and there was nothing Patel could do.
Sardar Patel was a man of remarkable foresight. In 1962 China sent her army across the border and India reeled under the blow. This is the saddest episode in the history of Free India. But as long back as on the 7th of November 1950, Patel wrote a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru and declared that China was not to be trusted. He wrote: 'The Government of China speaks of its desire for peace and is trying to mislead us. Hereafter, in planning the defense of our country,we must remember the intentions of Communist, China.'
Five weeks later Patel passed away. About twelve years after his death China attacked India.
'I MUST SPEAK THE TRUTH'Many people misunderstood Patel. There was false propaganda that he did not like Muslims. On the 6th of January 1948, speaking in Lucknow, he said, "There is a cry that I am against Muslims. But I am their true friend. I cannot beat about the bush. I cannot dissemble. Let no one try to have his two feet in two different boats. Let every one choose one boat. Let us all, who belong to India, swim or sink together."
The Sardar's plain words made some people angry. They complained to Gandhiji. What Sardar Patel said at that time shows the superbself-confidence of this mighty man: "I cannot speak anything but the truth. I cannot turn back on my duty, just to please some one."
THE LION IN THE CAGESardar's fiery words provoked the British Government. It sent him to prison twice in 1930. But this only increased his influence. Sardar Patel was elected President of the Karachi Session of the National Congress, which met in 1931.
In his speech Patel declared in unmistakable words, "Swaraj (independence) is our goal. There cannot be the slightest modification of that goal." The government was even more infuriated, and sent him to prison again. He was freed only in 1934.
The Sardar's experiences in the prison make interesting reading. He was treated as an ordinary prisoner. There was only one lavatory in the prison. Every morning the prisoners had to queue up for their turn. And they had to wait in another queue for water. There was no secluded place where they could pass urine. The food served in the prison was rotten. But nothing could dishearten the Sardar.
The officials of the prison loved to give the prisoners pinpricks. Some friends gave the Sardar as presents a few articles for his use in the prison. Among them was a razor. The officials would not let Patel have it. Finally Patel protested.
Patel said, "Why not give me the razor and let me shave all the prisoners? That will give me some work to do, and I can spend sometime."
Everyone including the clerks who heard him burst into laughter. Patel's faith in God and in religion was not obvious to outward view, But when he was in prison he got copies of the Bhagavad- Gita and the Ramayana through the authorities of the prison. He studied and pondered on them every day.