Modern Asian Studies

Research Article

Migration, Citizenship and Belonging in Hyderabad (Deccan), 1946–1956*


a1 International History Department, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK Email:


Whilst the history of the Indian diaspora after independence has been the subject of much scholarly attention, very little is known about non-Indian migrants in India. This paper traces the fate of Arabs, Afghans and other Muslim migrants after the forcible integration of the princely state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union in 1948. Because these non-Indian Muslims were doubly marked as outsiders by virtue of their foreign birth and their religious affiliation, the government of India wished to deport these men and their families. But the attempt to repatriate these people floundered on both political and legal shoals. In the process, many were left legally stateless. Nonetheless, migrants were able to creatively change the way they self-identified both to circumvent immigration controls and to secure greater privileges within India.


* This research has been generously funded by the UK's Arts & Humanities Research Council. I would like to thank Eleanor Newbigin and Omar Khalidi for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.