Hyderabad, as the historic capital of Sindh, is the centre of all the provincial communications: road, rail, waterways and air. From the date of its foundation (1768), its manufactures-ornamented silks, silver- and gold-work, and lacquered ware-have been the chief in the province, and during its heyday had gained prizes at the industrial exhibitions of Europe. Some noteworthy antiquities are the tombs’ of the Kalhora and Talpur rulers.
The early Hindu settlement in Hyderabad
Under the rule of a Hindu ruler Neroon, (Nairon) this small fishing village thrived upon the banks of the mighty Indus river. A nearby hill tract called the Ganjo Takker or the bald (barren) hill, later attributed to as the Ganjo Range by British, protected the town raising it above the level of the water and safe from flood calamities that were regular in neighboring regions. The place came to be known as Neroon Kot. literally means the Fort of Neroon.
The Ganjo Takker ridge lay on a low limestone range and was used as a place of worship by the most adherent religious priests that blessed the city believing their meditation may result in excellent trade networks the city was developing at the time. But these very particular popularity traits in the areas of trade led the city vulnerable to outside sieges. Equipped mostly with farming equipment. In 711-716 the place was attacked by the Arab armies locals surrendered & Neroon was dethroned.
The Islamic conquest
Arab General Muhammad Bin Qasim leading his troops conquered the town in 711-712 AD. By the mid-712, Muslims armies had conquered much of the Sindh. However, later in an agreement with local Hindu authorities of the Sindh the Arab forces halted their advances and ceased military activities in Sindh in return of peaceful conduct affairs. After a brief rule of Arabs and Hindu leaders Sindh came under the rule of local Sumras, who were local Sindhis converted to Islam. Somra rule was followed by the Samma dynasty rule. By the end of Samma dynasty rule Sindh was occupied by invading Afghan warlords who lost the empire to Mughal Empire after a brief period of rule.
The Mughal empire thrived in the majority of the central parts of India and yet however never seated a ruler on the land of Neroon. The new Muslim invaders that had settled in the town mingled with the locals and wed Hindu girls and were pulled into the mysticism of the land. For decades Hyderabad did not seat a throne but things were to change when Nadir Shah Durrani or Iran invaded the Mughal capital in 1739.
All throughout the late 1600s, the Mughal dynasty had grown weary and weak in the regions of the Sindhu territory or Sindh and the governor Yar Muhammad Khan Kalhora became the de facto, virtual ruler of Sindh around 1701 CE. Muhammad Khan Kalhora belonged to the most affluent tribe in the region namely the Kalhora
The Kalhora dynasty
A sketch of the Pacco Qillo (c. 1845) drawn by Lieut. Edwards.The River Indus was changing course around 1757 due to Monsoons resulting into periodic floods and devastating the banks of the river. Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhora was admired as the saintly ruler of Sindh at the time his capital Khudabad near Dadu was repeatedly flooded. Being fed up, he decided to move his capital to a better place.
The present day city of Hyderabad was founded in 1768 on the site of the ancient town of Neroon Kot by Ghulam Shah Kalhora of the Kalhora Dynasty it remained the chief town of Sindh until 1843, when, after the battle of Miani, it surrendered to the British, and the capital was transferred to Karachi. It was named after the prophet Mohammed’s son-in-law, Ali, also known as Haidar.
Surviving as a small fishing village on the banks of River Indus, the city was suddenly called the heart of the Mehran. Thriving upon the fresh river water’s banks, Hyderabad was much loved by Ghulam Shah. He admired the city so much that in 1766, he ordered a fort to be built on one of the three hills of Hyderabad to house and defend his people. The massive half-a-square kilometer (about 36 acres) garrison was completed by 1768. Since then, it stands in place and is called the Pacco Qillo پڪو قلعو or the strong fort. The Kalhora rule lasted for two more decades until the demise of the great Ghulam Shah.
The Talpur dynasty of Sindh
An artist’s interpretation of his highness Mir Muhammad Naseer Khan Talpur, the last ruler of the fortified town.After the death of the great Kalhora, started the Talpur Rule. Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro’s period is considered to be the Golden period in the history of Sindh. Later the Kalhora behaved as incompetent rulers and Sindh was ruined under Mian Abdun-Nabi Kalhoro. Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur left his capital Khudabad, the land of God and made Hyderabad his capital in 1789. Great celebrations were held in 1792 CE to mark his formal entry in the Hyderabad fort. He made the Pacco Qillo his residence and also held his courts there. Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur along with his three other brothers was responsible for the affairs that persisted in the city of Hyderabad in the years of their kingdom. The four were called Chār Yār, Sindhi for four friends. The rulers of Sindh were named Ameers, Arabic for leaders.
It remained the capital of Sindh under the Talpur rulers who succeeded the Kalhoras till 1843, a rule lasting almost half-a-century when Talpurs faced a greater threat – the British. The last remaining rule of the Talpur kingdom was Mir Muhammad Naseer Khan Talpur (pictured right) was among the Talpur leaders to surrender to the British and was ported to Calcutta in what is now India. Many Talpur Mirs died there during many years of confinement in a small area near Calcutta. The bodies of the Talpur Mirs who died there were brought back to Hyderabad when all Mirs were allowed to return to Sindh. These Mirs were buried in the tombs located at the northern edge of the Ganjo Hill where the city was born from.
For these Mirs, they embraced the local culture and tried to proceed it with building literary institutions to restore the integrity of the Sindhi culture. In order to educate their people the mother of Mir Fateh Ali Khan, Bibi Khairunnissa, established Jamia al-Khairi or al-Khairi University.
The colonial rule
The history of the British occupation is taken mostly from the Imperial Gazetteer of India, written over a century ago during British rule.
Hyderabad at the turn of the last century.The British came face-to-face with the Talpurs at the battle of Miani on 17 February, 1843. It is said that even in rigor mortis the Ameers (Mirs) held their swords high fighting the British. The battle ended on 24 March where the Mirs lost and the city came into the hands of the British. The battle at Dabo landed an even greater part of Sindh in the laps of the British regime and the city surrendered to the British. Being the last stronghold in the way of the British, the city once conquered, completed the British Conquest of Sindh.
The crown of being a capital of the emirate of Sindh was then transferred to Karachi when the British general Sir Charles Napier conquered Sindh in 1843, mainly because the East India Company had headquarters in Karachi.
The residency, memorable for its defence by Sir James Outram against the Baluchis in 1843, which was situated 3 miles from Hyderabad, no longer exists. The municipality of Hyderabad was established in 1853.
In the Pacco Qillo the British kept the arsenal of the province, transferred from Karachi in 1861, and the palaces of the ex-Amirs of Sind that they had taken over. In 1857, when the Indian mutiny raged across the Indian sub-continent, the British held most of their regiments and ammunition in this city. The garrison at the fort composed of British and Native infantry, 2 batteries of artillery, and an ammunition column. The barracks were built in twelve blocks, with hospitals, bazar and various amenities to the north-west of the city.
The British demolished most of the buildings around the time of the mutiny to accommodate their troops and their military stores and fused the arsenal in the Pacco Qillo so that the people wouldn’t use that against them. Evidently the city received the very first blow to its glorious name. No longer were the roads washed with sandalwood perfume and rose-water.
The British however tallied the population statistics of the city in the years to come to keep an accurate record of the growth. Populations statistics dating back to 1872 compliment the tremendous growth the city achieved within a few decades. From 43,088 (1872), 48,153 (1881), 58,048 (1891) to 69,378 (1901), the city grew in thousands. At this point in time the Hinduism was the most dominant ethnic religion with 43,499 followers mostly linked to trade while 24,831 Muslims made up the largest ethnic minority. The 710 Christians were mostly new converts or the British soldiers in regiments around the town. The city ranked seventh in the Bombay Presidency in terms of population.
Also included in the census figures were income and expenditure, the average income during the decade ending 1901 was Rs. 2.2 lakhs. In 1903-4 the income and expenditure amounted to 2.7 and 2.8 lakhs respectively. The chief sources of income were octroi (Rs. 1,30,000) and water rate (Rs. 22,000); and the chief heads of expenditure were general administration and collection of taxes (Rs. 39,000), public safety (Rs. 7,400), water-supply and drainage (RS. 22,000), conservancy (Rs. 37,000), hospitals and dispensaries (Rs. 15,000), public works (Rs. 13,000), and education (Rs. 18,000). The income of the cantonment fund in 1903-4 was Rs. 43,000, and the expenditure Rs. 33,800.
The British devised a rail network throughout the western part of the then South Asia and purchased the private Scinde Railway (Sinds railway) to connect to the Kabul trade routes. The rail network would later be called the North-Western State Railway in 1886. Hyderabad was a major junction on the line linking distant trade locations like Lahore and still is to date.
To facilitate the expansion of the former capital, the British deployed water pumping technologies that would pump water from the river bank at Gidu Bandar whence from the water was deposited into large reservoirs situated about 500 yards from the river bank capable of holding over 1,000,000 gallons of water, surely a first when it comes to state-of-the-art constructions. Using a smart gravitational concept, the water was then supplied to the far most arid regions of the town
Independence and exodus of Sindhi Hindus from Sindh
Prior to the independence of Pakistanin 1947, Hyderabad had a large population of Hindu Sindhi who were mainly involved in trade and commerce. The community contributed significantly to the economy of Sindh. When independence of India occurred, the Hindu Sindhis expected to remain in Sindh. There was good communal relation between the Hindu and Muslims Sindhis; Hyderabad was seen as one of the cities least affected by Hindu-Muslim violence in British India. In other cities, the Hindus and Muslims were often not of the same ethnic group, however in Hyderabad, Sindhis, Muslim and Hindu alike, were the de-facto ethnic group.
This led to the peaceful communal relationship between the two religions in Hyderabad. But when waves of Mohajirs who escaped from anti-Muslim pograms in India started to pour into Hyderabad, violence erupted on the streets. The Hindu Sindhis were forced to flee leaving everything behind. Many Hindu Sindhis wanted to return to their native Sindh, when the violence had settled down, but it was not possible. The Mohajirs were given land in lieu of land they lost in India mostly in the town of Hirabad which belonged to the Hindus. While the population of the people grew with the migration in progress, the then-Government of Pakistan proposed the creation of two more towns, namely Latifabad (in honour of the famous poet of Sindh Shah Abdul Latif Bhita’i) and Qasimabad.
City declared capital again
With the influx of people from across the borders, the city saw its numbers increasing in population and was deemed to be the largest city according to population statistics at the time. Owing to the new-found glory, the city regained its title of being a capital of the Sindh province from 1947 to 1955 after which Karachi was made the capital of Sindh. Government institutions like the University of Sindh, moved its campuses from the city of Karachi to settle in the new capital in 1951 along the banks of Indus. During this time, Hyderabad was incorporated as a municipality in 1953.
Hyderabad, twice the capital of Sindh and now the sixth largest city of Pakistan, is one of the oldest cities of the sub-continent. Hyderabad is a communication centre, connected by rail with Peshawar and Karachi. The third largest city of the province of Sindh, it has over 6 million people dwelling in it.
Diverse ethnic settlements
People migrated from across the border into Pakistan were all ethnically diverse. Migrants that settled in the province of Punjab were predominantly Punjabi speaking people and amalgamated well with the natives, whilst the people that came into the territories of the province of Sindh found no bond with the natives of Sindh, neither cultural nor racial, not even religious at times. Most Sindhi natives were Hindus. The new emigrants found difficult to mingle with the native neighbours in their newly allotted homes. And even decades after independence, the tensions seems to rise even steeper limits. The emigrants were given a new identity, a new name – Mohajirs.
Being a Muhajir and recognition
Towards the end of the 1970s and the beginning of 1980s, Karachi was a haven for Muslim refugees who fled anti-Muslim pogroms in India, known merely as Muhajirs, the word having decent from Hijrat, the exodus of early Muslims along with the prophet from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution due to religious beliefs. With Karachi overflowing with migrants, the influx reached the ends of the Hyderabad city at the south, where Latifabad is located.
The refugees that travelled across the border spoke Urdu and had cultural and social traditions different from that of the feudal counterparts the Sindhis adopted. With the adoption of Urdu as a National language, it was apparent that the Muhajirs were in the forefront of the struggle for Pakistani nationalism whilst their Sindhi, Punjabi and Pathan counterparts supported their own regional identities and found nationalism a fad excuse by the Muhajirs to gather more power out of the system.
The federal power, that rested with the Muhajirs, starting to gradually sift into the hands of more Punjabi ‘bureaucratic-military clique’. The Sindhis fought back to resurrect their dying culture and in 1972, according to the Sindh Act, imposed the teaching of Sindhi language compulsory in schools all over the province of Sindh. These actions led to the first violent clashes involving muhajir groups.
The ethnic riots
The 1980s saw a black period in the history of Hyderabad as riots erupted in the city between the two ethnic diversities in majority, the Sindhis and the Mohajirs. The city had never been the same again, forever divided by ethnicity, scared by racist hatred. This type of tension was never felt in the town; even when Hindus were part of the community in pre-independence Hyderabad.
In 1988, it was reported that the streets of Hyderabad were littered with bodies right from Hirabad to Latifabad. The riots claimed over 60 dead in just one day, and more than 250 deaths in this phase of rioting. In a backlash, more than 60 Sindhi speaking people were gunned down in Karachi.
The political hoopla over the domestic violence and civil killings provoked a massive police operation in the city with 2000 policemen surrounded the Pacco Qillo locality. The huge army of peacemakers could not curb the riots and had to be called back. There was only a trickle of internal migrations before the operation, but the operation triggered a mass exodus of population. The mohajirs migrated en masse from Qasimabad and the interior of Sindh into Latifabad. Similarly, the Sindhis people moved to Qasimabad from Hyderabad and Latifabad.