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1921 Malabar Hindu Genocide: We don’t want to see another specimen of the khilafat Raj – Anne Besant

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This is the 100th year of the flagrant Hindu genocide in Malabar in 1921. Although the Congress, led by Mahatmaji, supported the anti-British pan-Islamic movement launched by a section of Muslims around the world to restore the power of the caliph, the Sultan of Turkey, to open a new path of Hindu-Muslim unity, in Bharat, it also led to flagrant Hindu persecution in the Muslim-majority areas of Ernadu, Walluvanad, Ponnani and Kozhikode taluks of Malabar in Kerala. Many, such as Dr. Ambedkar stated that the Mappila riots later evolved into a political ideology and program to cut off Bharat in the name of religion.

It took five months (1921, Aug. 20 to Jan. 20, 1922) for the British government to overthrow the rebels and restore rule of Law in the areas where the independent Islamic State (Khilafat) had been declared. More than 10,000 Hindus were brutally murdered. About one lakh Hindus had to give up everything and flee. Of these, only about 40,000 refugees have found some relief in refugee camps set up by various movements and local kings, such as the Arya Samaj, the Servant of India Society and Zamurin of Kozhikode. Those who are forcibly converted do not count at all. Records show that close to 3,000 Hindu brothers and sisters who converted to Islam were able to return to Swadharma through the Arya Samaj-initiated purification (shuddhi) activities. Everyone who visited the site noted that there was not a single Hindu house or temple that was not destroyed in the riot-hit area. There will be between 300 and 500 completely destroyed temples. The atrocities committed against women are beyond words. Dr. Anne Besant, who visited Malabar on the instructions of the Congress, wrote that Malabar has taught us what the Khilafat Kingdom (Islamic rule) still means and She further states that we don’t want to see another specimen of the khilafat Raj in Bharat (The Future of Indian politics, page 304) Inspired by Sree Narayana Guru, the hero of the renaissance of Kerala, Sri. N. Kumaran Ashan, the first General Secretary of the SNDP and the great Malayalam poet, brings out a direct picture of the Mappila riots in his masterpiece Duravastha.

Variam Kunnath Kunhahammad Haji was the supreme rebel leader who led the Khilafat regime. Khilafat rule was carried out by his governors, soldiers and Shariah courts. The real picture of that caliphate rule can be found in many historical books and memoirs of that time. The Tuvvur massacre is a typical example of the Khilafat court and its brutal punishment.

The massacre took place on September 24 and 25 of 1921 in Tuvvur, East Ernad of Malabar, under the leadership of Varian Kunnan and Chembrasseri Thangal. The poor Hindus, those who couldn’t flee even after the month-long riot, on charges of aiding the army, were brought out of home, detained and executed by Islamic trials. The law stated that if one confessed, pleaded guilty, converted to Islam and joined the Khilafat army, his life would be freed. They declared that only one religion is enough in the independent kingdom. Or one can live subject to Islamic religious rule and the Death penalty for non-compliance.

The death penalty was imposed on those who refused to convert and stand firm. The Taliban are ashamed to the brutalities committed by these Moplahs like immersing the kafir in boiling water, mutilate their bodies one by one, tie their hands together, hang themselves alive, smash their shoulders, split their bodies in half, split their heads in half with a timber cutting saw. They did not spare the Muslim brothers who sympathized with the Hindus. Varian Kunnan ordered the temple priests to be beheaded by Chembrasseri Tangal himself.

The Shariah court sentenced 36 people to death in a well in Tuvvur, Pangode. It had 2 moplahs and 3 pujaris. The rest are ordinary Hindus. Many died half-alive lying in the grave for many days. It is said that the cry was heard for days. There are also testimonies that someone was sparing from the top again with bamboo shoots. The outside world heard these cruelties after many days.

Pandit Rishi Ram Ji for the Arya Samaj, E. Rama Menon BA for the Central Committee, Devdhar for the Service India Society, K. Madhavan Nair and Srinivasa Sastri for the Congress later visited the site and took evidence. Later Variamkunnan’s accomplices Chembassery Thangal, Impichi Koya Thangal, Achuthodi Kunjappi and Kozhissery Mammad alias Amakundan Mammad were sentenced to death by the special tribunal under sections 121,110 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code. A Moppila Witness in the case himself describes the mentality of the riot leaders who laughed and rejoiced at the plight of the poor who were murdered and hacked to death.

The lesson we have to understand is that such heinous killings should not be repeated anywhere in the world, not in India. The area, which was left uninhabitable by the local Muslim population, for many decades is being bought by outsiders with the backing of some militant groups. Not only that, the well which is filled with mud, and buildings are being constructed in such a way that even its remnants are unrecognizable. It is a great crime against history. It has the covert and overt support of the administration.

At the same time, with the support of the state govt., the district administration has announced plans worth crores of rupees to build monuments and museums in the name of the riot leaders Variyan Kunnan and others, whitewashing into super heroes of the freedom movement, during this Amrita Mahotsav year of independence.

Our forefathers, who were martyred by the Mappila rebels in many wells and ponds, including the Tuvvur well, were heroes who sacrificed their lives to live a religious life of their choice in their own land. Gandhiji demanded that Hindus should develop the strength and courage to die before giving in to forced conversion. Moreover, Gandhiji says that he was proud of the Hindus who thought that it was better to pave the way for the use of Mappilas’ axe than to pave the way for forced conversion. (Young India – 1922 Jan 26)

Yes, they were the real martyrs of the freedom movement. Their memories and monuments should come up. One hundred years later, it is the duty of human lovers today to pay tribute to those martyrs. It is an atonement for a mistake made some 100 years ago. We must be prepared to move forward with the realization that we are Bharatiyas beyond caste, religion and language and to warn the divisive forces that are trying to sow the seeds of division among us. This remembrance is also to call out that no more power can destroy or weaken us. History should not distort to soothe somebody or something. The mistake that happened yesterday needs to be corrected. In that belief, we must learn the lessons of the shadow cast over the national freedom struggle – the riots in Malabar, recognize the ideology sown to cut off the country in the name of religion, and be careful not to allow it to grow any further. We must be able to move forward by respecting the different movements of the freedom struggle and by fostering an unwavering commitment to the motherland, culture and heritage that inspired them all. The Amrita Mahotsava of Independence should be taken as an opportunity to remember the forgotten, despised and courageous patriots and to perpetuate their motivation. Through such projects, let us work together to prepare the new generation to dedicate themselves to the creation of a new India.

Courtesy – Organiser

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