The colonial police force with prisoners of the Moplah riots | wikimedia commons
The colonial police force with prisoners of the Moplah riots | wikimedia commons
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New Delhi: In the run up to the centenary year of the infamous Moplah rebellion (1921-22), an almost forgotten chapter of Indian history, a major ideological debate is brewing following the announcement in June of a Malayalam movie on the issue. 

Variyamkunnan is set to be a biopic on Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji, one of the key controversial figures in the rebellion. The movie, expected to be released in the centenary year of Moplah rebellion in 2021, will be directed by Aashiq Abu, with actor Prithviraj in the titular role.

It promises to portray a positive image of Haji but not everyone is buying it.  

Criticising the attempt “to glorify Haji” and by extension the Moplah rebellion, J. Nandakumar, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak and national convenor of the Prajna Pravah, an organisation that works among intellectuals, said the rebellion was nothing but Hindu genocide. 

“The protagonist of this Islamist project, Kunjahammed Haji, belonged to a rabidly iconoclastic family. His father was earlier deported to Mecca for engineering a slew of communal riots,” Nandakumar said.

“He spearheaded the Hindu genocide of 1921, which led to the massacre of thousands of Hindus, forcible conversions, rape of Hindu women and children and destruction of Hindu properties and places of worship.

“Reportedly, in the biopic, Kunjahammed is projected as a paragon of communal harmony and Hindus as villains who sided with the British. And that his ‘valiant efforts’ led to the flight of the British from that part of the country and he established an independent Malayala Nadu (land of Malayalis) for a few months,” he added.

“In reality, what he established was Al-Daula (Islamic State) where he imposed jizya (religious tax) on the Hindus of his territory.”

The violence in the region began at Tirurangadi in Kerala’s South Malabar on 20 August, 1921, and lasted for over four months, resulting in the imposition of martial law in six out of 10 taluks in the then Malabar district. More than a lakh Hindus were displaced.  

“It was the Marxist historians who first appropriated the communal pogrom as a peasant uprising to suit their ideological narratives and requirements and win over a large organised vote-bank for the Left parties,” Nandakumar said.

This peasant uprising theory has been constantly challenged and in the run up to the centenary year of this event, the debate is likely to get  back on the national agenda.


Also read: ‘Warrior Sadhu’ to Kothari brothers — the 10 unsung heroes of Ayodhya Ram Mandir movement


The rebellion that united Savarkar, Ambedkar & Annie Besant 

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was one of the first ones to describe the Moplah rebellion as an anti-Hindu genocide through his semi-fictional novel Moplah, which became hugely popular when it was published in 1924.

According to another book, The Moplah Rebellion, 1921, Haji was an outlaw who played a key role in the rebellion. The book, published in 1923, and put together by the then deputy collector of the area, C. Gopalan Nair, is considered to be one of the most authentic accounts of the event. 

“Murders, dacoities, forced conversions and outrages on Hindu women became order of the day,” recorded Nair in his book.’

Even Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has provided a detailed account on the rebellion in Pakistan or The Parition of India’ (Dr. Babasaheb  Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches,  Volume 8, P.163), and it isn’t a glowing one.  

Beginning with the year 1920 there occurred in that year in Malabar what is known as the Mopla Rebellion. It was the result of the agitation carried out by two Muslim organisations, the Khuddam-i-Kaba (servants of the Mecca Shrine) and the Central Khilafat Committee,” Ambedkar wrote.

“Agitators actually preached the doctrine that India under the British Government was Dar-ul-Harab and that the Muslims must fight against it and if they could not, they must carry out the alternative principle of Hijrat. The Moplas were suddenly carried off their feet by this agitation. The outbreak was essentially a rebellion against the British government. The aim was to establish the kingdom of Islam by overthrowing the British government.”

Dr. Ambedkar further noted that the forces behind the rebellion declared Khilafat kingdoms.

“As a rebellion against the British Government it was quite understandable. But what baffled most was the treatment accorded by the Moplas to the Hindus of Malabar,” he wrote.

“The Hindus were visited by a dire fate at the hands of the Moplas. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, such as ripping open pregnant women, pillage, arson and destruction— in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism, were perpetrated freely by the Moplas upon the Hindus until such time as troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order through a difficult and extensive tract of the country.

“This was not a Hindu-Moslem riot. This was just a Bartholomew. The number of Hindus who were killed, wounded or converted, is not known. But the number must have been enormous.” 

It took more than four months for the British to control the rebellion. The official records show 2,266 killed, 1,615 wounded, 5,688 captured, while 38,256 surrendered during military engagements. 

Theosophist and one of the most respected figures in India’s struggle for freedom during the 20th century, Annie Besant, who had presided over the first ‘Reform Conference’ in Malabar in the spring of 1921, also wrote in detail about the event. 

“The fourfold programme was begun formally on August 1, 1920; Swaraj was to be attained in a year, and on August 1, 1921, the first step was taken in the Malabar Rebellion; the Musalmans (Moplas) of that district after three weeks of preparing weapons, rose over a definite area in revolt, believing, as they had been told, that British Rule had ceased, and they were free,” she wrote in The Future of Indian Politics (Theosophical Publishing House,1922, p. 252).  

“They established the Khilafat Raj, crowned a King, murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh people were driven from their homes with nothing but the clothes they had on, stripped of everything,” she added. 


Also read: 72 years of ABVP, student body where Amit Shah, Nadda, Rajnath began their political careers


(The writer is associated with the RSS. He is research director at the Delhi-based think-tank ‘Vichar Vinimay Kendra’)

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31 COMMENTS

  1. This article gains more prominence after PFI march people in RSS uniforms in chains. This is the future which worries the Hindus. It is the loss of identity, roots, culture, heritage to a set of people whose ancestors followed the same religion, who would not cherish such a wonderful and colorful inheritance. If the Malaysian muslims can say that they have their own expression of Islam, why not the muslims of India? Why must Salafist ideology of the middle east be the only definition of a religion whose followers come from myriad cultural backgrounds, shaped by their own historical struggles? Why must the ideologues bend each and every independent thought and insight to suit Islamist ideals? Why are they looking for acceptance from people who call them “converts”, living far away on top of their oil wells, rather than their own neighbours who most likely will be the first ones to respond to calls of aid? I feel like sometimes Indian muslims are like the child who is always looking for approval from his/her father, who never assents, forcing them to try and be more Muslim than the Gulfis. Their daily domestic issues do not coincide and never will because geographically, politically, socially, the fundamental issues are different. The Gulf is perhaps too far off, even in our immediate neighborhood, East and West Pakistan couldn’t survive in harmony. We all know that history, this exercise in futility boggles the mind and beggars belief. Today the issue for the Islamist thought are other religious denominations, when and if they do become the majority who is to say deobands and barelvis, etc don’t start sectarian violence and start killing muslims for not being the right kind of muslims, even before that, shia vs sunni might play out. At what point does the pcannibalization end? The problem is the easy justification for violence and not enough effort spent on communication and acceptance. The need to be so nosey in the affairs of the neighbour and their day to day life that this sort of vicarious living becomes a job in itself. Let charity begin from home, work on improving the life of the poor muslim living near you if you have the capability before trying to tackle issues faced by muslims in a different part of the world. Food, water, shelter, education, growth is not automatically going to appear just because your heart supposedly “bleeds” for muslims for whom you can’t really do anything and merely provide lip service in the hopes that magically your “muslimness” will be recognized and you will somehow magically have your needs taken care of. Unfortunately this rant is pretty useless as well since improving this life and the lives of others is not really the priority since “real” life will only be lived after this one ends.

  2. muslims have only in this country killed hindus & looted us, still they cry india is an islamophobic country, if india is so islamophobe why don’t go to ur beloved country pakistan, but no they will not, they wants to rule over hindus. i just can’t imagine how people become so cruel bcoz of their religion. what muslims has did to hindus, hindus have did not did 1% of it.

  3. Its no doubt that islam fundamentally is the most backward idiotic and oppressive religion. Islam in modern world can only lead to death and destruction, muslims can be easily swayed to do unspeaked atrocities because of their submission to their faith and it have been proved time after time from al queda to isis. You cant build a utopia on the most dystopian foundation that is islam. Addressing that, i also hate the rise of extremism hindu community and the ever increasing hatred towards muslims. We go backwards in the same direction as the islamic radicals when we glorify people like savarkar and blindly support groups like rss. Understand that the hatred is mutual in both cases. A hindu who killed a muslim in name of their gods is just as heinous as a muslim who killed a hindu in their’s god name. Dont get blinded by your religion whatever that is and try to understand that a crime is a crime who ever commits it.

    • It’s not that this happened all of a sudden on a morning. What is known as the Malabar Riots, has history to it and Gandhiji was present in the history and the events which led to what is known as Malabar Riots.

      • It was Gandhiji who adopted the khilafhat movement and made it into a national movement.
        If he was truly secular he should have condemned this and should have put an end to such radical elements at root.
        But he did not.

      • It was Gandhiji who adopted the khilafhat movement and made it into a national movement.
        If he was truly secular he should have condemned this and should have put an end to such radical elements at root.
        But he did not.

  4. RSS doesn’t have authentic records to quote, now they are in the run rewriting the history. as long as them follows savarkar who infact pleaded for mercy from the britishers one cant expect more, needless to say seldom they had any contributions to the indian independence struggle. Their focus were and is always is on the religious issues. Shame on you RSS you still follows the british divide and rule policy!!

    • Dumb a$$, he showed many authentic records above, still u can’t read it??? Are you partial blind??? Ambedkar was no fan of Hinduism, yet he called it anti-hindu riot??? Why?? Now ambedkar is also a RSs, according to your theory mr.Islamist….You guys r basically cancer

  5. Always take a lesson from history , thank you Atleast you are showing true History which was hidden under so called secularism in India to protect a vote bank of some suppose to be only minorities living here and their only task to protect their ideology though whatever brutelly they behave is agreeable and acceptable and correct How long Indians will be tortured by these people in the name of their religious right though the will never accept this nation is theirs until they completely convert it in islam.

  6. It is in the interest of the country to know its history and to learn from this, not from a vindictive standpoint but to be prepared not to let bad things happen again. As it has been said correctly: That people don’t learn lessons from history is the first lesson of history.

  7. “As a rebellion against the British Government it was quite understandable. But what baffled most was the treatment accorded by the Moplas to the Hindus of Malabar,” Ambedkar’s words are a chilling reminder of the reprehensible ideology of political Islam or Islamism.

    Ambedkar is by no means a fan of Hinduism. Yet his account reads –
    “The Hindus were visited by a dire fate at the hands of the Moplas. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, such as ripping open pregnant women, pillage, arson and destruction— in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism, were perpetrated freely by the Moplas upon the Hindus until such time as troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order through a difficult and extensive tract of the country.”

    Shocking!

    • tujhe koi rss ke thought bech bhi nahi raha hai.
      In jaise logon ko dekho aise secularism ki baat karenge aur zara kisi muslim ko kuch keh do toh unka bachaav karenge .

    • Islam was and is not a religion. Future we don’t know. Their only principles in practice are their penis, vagina, blood letting or killing and sex. Those are the practical principles this cult runs on. This is not me saying. The ex-muslims say it openly. So such a race or people will have to be paid or treated with the same medicines.

  8. Great factual article.Incontrovertible proof of anti-Hindu of Moplah outrage. It was a jihad, no less. Congratulations to the author for a lovely piece

  9. Thanks for letting us know this gruesome history against Hindus. Seems like except Hindus all other communities are living peacefully.

  10. When both the RSS and Ambedkar are on the same page calling it an Anti-Hindu progrom – another one among the dozens and dozens buried by the liberal left – we can rest assured that it is indeed certainly a true fact.

  11. The rss is against muslims.so it code even Ambedkar to put their point.
    But say nothing what Ambedkar said about braminism. The RSS never criticize Braminism past. It was also brutal and horrible.
    India needs today defeat of both ideology brahminism and Arabic islaimism.

    • Mr. Abu Sheikh, was it really necessary to comment under a false name? Your Islamists brethren are already accusing RSS openly, you don’t need to hide your true identity. Open-mind and being logical is too much to ask from the Islamists. Yes, even Ambedkar and Annie Besant were member of RSS. Even Osama Bin Laden was part of RSS.

Comments are closed.