My life is pretty straight and simple, day job, simple passions, and a beautiful family. Being socially active, I’ve come across people with n-number of ideologies, and I am adapted to looking beyond imperfections. Like every other boy, my childhood was filled with stories told to me by my father. Old enough, I understood these stories were ancestral history. I’m passionate about history; knowing my own was a challenge accepted.
Now, even exactly after a century, we can still see skeletons of the grim and gory past smiling at us. The wounds are reopened every time they glorify the cause of their war. Yes, the very same Moplah rebellion, which was falsely clept as the “peasants’ revolt” or “freedom struggle” is repeatedly used as an excuse for each parties’ gain and interest.
On 21st August 1921, 8 am, an azan echoed across Nilambur town. Hearing the news of unrest across Southern Malabar, the Nilambur kingdom had appointed a handful of sentries for the safety of their Kovilakam (The palace). The group of Moplahs weren’t identified until later, as the rebel convoy looked like a religious procession. The meagre palace guards offered feeble resistance, but in vain.
These religious nomads proceeded to attack every living Hindu and Hindu supporters of the Kovilakam; and finally, after a long fight Veluthedan Narayanan and the Velichappad (Oracle of the Kovilakam temple – Vettakkoru Makan) lost their lives trying to defend the palace walls. The rioters damaged the front door but could not enter the Kovilakam. Another group of mobs ran towards the nearby Chaliyar river and killed two women who were bathing. The woman pleaded to spare the life of her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who was sitting on a nearby rock. After looting the Kovilakam, the rioters marched towards another targeted destination.
Many innocent bloods dripped down their remorseless scythes and washed the shores of Chaliyar that noon. The little girl was sucking at her dead mom’s breast for a drop of milk when the second Raja of Nilampur Manavedan Tirumulpad found her. He adopted the orphaned little girl, named her Kamala and brought her up as his own daughter. Kamala was later married to Padmanabha Menon, Junior Engineer of the Electricity board in 1938.
History records more than 50 Moplah uprisings in Indian history, but sadly highlights the horrifying violence suffered by the Hindu families in 1921.
Moplah Massacre was not a peasant revolt
The true meaning of Suhadah (martyr) was recaptioned in Islam, when their cause of war was purely religion, and in that name brutally killed, raped and robbed enormous non-Islamic people. According to them, Islamic martyrs, who die during this so-called rebellion, cross the heaven’s gate on horses caparisoned with precious stones, welcomed by ‘Houries’ (Virgin angels) and other fantasies. For an illiterate Eranadan Moplah, these promises of after life were more welcoming than the mundane earthly life he lived.
The Freedom movements in India demanded every man and women to join hands towards a common cause. It was Mahatma Gandhi’s idea to combine the Khilafat movement with the Swaraj movement, thinking this will initiate the Muslims who were staying away to participate in our struggle for freedom. Little he knew about the fates of Hindus, when thousands were sacrificed and killed in the name of Islam. The Indian freedom fighters dreamt about a free country, but the Khilafatites, dreamt about a free Islamic country.
They were more concerned about the power struggle happening 5000 kilometres away in Turkey. India under the British regime was Dar-ul-Harab and, it was considered any Musalman’s duty to fight against it. Initially, thousands of Moplahs joined the Khilafat movement against the Queen’s Government. Hindus and Moplahs of Eranad, Valluvanad, Ponnani and Calicut worked hand-in-hand in the Khilafat movement. The Moplahs weren’t dreaming about the nationalist leaders’ Swaraj, instead their aim was to establish the kingdom of Islam by overthrowing the British Government.
Few days before the revolt, the British got wind of the violence and had bolstered its Second Leinster Regiment at Calicut, calling in three more platoons of the same Regiment from Madras. They planned to search for hidden weapons among the Muslim zealots at Thirurangadi. The Magistrate with these forces reached Thirurangadi on the early morning of Saturday, 20 August 1921. Three people were arrested by 10 am after the search. Same time, the Police party received information that 2000 Mappilas have reached Parappanangadi railway station from Thanur, and they were marching towards Thirurangadi. The search party headed by Mein Vering, District Police Superintend R.H Hitchcock, and Dy SP Amu Saheb confronted the Moplah crowd.
This was the beginning of 1921 Mappila Jihad. “Nara-e-Takbir, Allahu Akbar”, these slogans did not resonate with nationalist vigour or peasantry strength. Neither did they carry the Swaraj Flag (designed by Pingali Venkayya) nor the Khilafat flag (two intersecting circles). Instead, the rioters marched with the black ‘Banner of Eagle’ also known as rāyat al-`uqāb, the historical flag flown by Muhammad in Islamic tradition, an eschatological symbol in Shi’a Islam, heralding the arrival of the Mahdi, and a symbol used in Islamism and Jihadism.
They attacked using iron rods. The police bayonets were no match to their rising numbers. Nine mobs were killed in the police firing. When the crowd withdrew, the British captured Kunjikhadar, Secretary of Thanur Khilafat Committee and 40 other Mappilas.
The wheels of the British administration were immobile for a while, and the fundamentalists were up in arms. They raided and plundered police stations, treasuries, courts, and other government offices. These religious disturbances soon spread to the nearby areas of Malappuram like wildfire.
Why MB Rajesh was wrong
Recently when Mr. M.B. Rajesh, speaker of the Kerala Assembly, made a statement at the news channel, it triggered a lot of painful moments and losses, from the stories that were once narrated to me. I do not hold any personal grudge against M.B. Rajesh. But being in a distinguished position, he twisted the facts for political gain and Islamist appeasement. No, such people are blotches on the face of great Indian democracy, scavenging beasts trying to feast on the decayed corpses of thousands of Hindus who floated on Chaliyar; in short, a communist!
It’s not him, but the cancerous ideology blabbering such blatant lies for a few votes. If they erase a few thousand names belonging to the working class, then the Moplah riot is a perfect story that fits their first-class war theory with just binary entities – The landlords and the peasants.
Abni Mukherji coined the Communist version of the story in 1922 in his report to Lenin. The new generations of Communists, including M. Swaraj and Rajesh, chant the same old fable of Comrade Mukherji and, in that struggle, they even contradict the statement of their own revered leader EMS Namboothirppad, who himself was a victim of the Moplah rebellion, who was forced to leave his house.
With all due respect, let me ask a few questions.
Where in the world other than South Malabar, a peasant revolution is led by religious slogans? If the riots were against the British, how many British officials were killed? If the revolution was a part of the Indian freedom struggle, which national leader called for mass conversions and gang rapes of Hindus? The generation today is well educated to think, analyse and has the freedom to openly discuss these. The findings will be very simple, convert or kill. Any attempt to paint a bunch of bigots as freedom fighters will be condemned, as that is the only tribute, we could give to our unknown ancestors who fell prey to this zealotry.
Note: The author is the grandson of aforementioned Kamala and Padmanabha Menon.