As the nation observes the 99th anniversary of the Moplah Rebellion (conveniently named Khilafat Movement by a group of historians and politicians), the Islamists in Kerala are getting ready to demand a separate Malabar State where the Muslims would have a clear majority. The Muslim Youth League, an outfit affiliated to the Muslim League has declared that it would be the focus of the centenary celebration of the Mappila Rebellion which falls in 2021.
Though some historians portray the rebellion as an agrarian crisis the truth is far away, says Prof C I Issac, historian and member of the ICHR.
Divan Bahadur C Gopalan Nair, the then deputy collector of Malabar who chronicled the events leading to the massive pogrom in which nearly 2,000 Hindus were massacred and 20,000 persons were forcibly converted to Islam, says there is no iota of truth in the claim that it was a rebellion by agricultural workers.
“The Moplahs (as Muslims are addressed in reverence) in Eranadu were tenants of zamindars and they never paid anything in return despite the rich harvests. When this became a regular affair, the landlords approached the court with pleas to make them vacate the land. It was to take revenge for this that the Moplahs took to arms and massacred the Namboodiris and Nairs, known for their peaceful nature,” chronicles Nair who was privy to all official records.
The memoirs of Gopalan Nair was retrieved by the Arya Samaj office bearers who published it in a book form as a mark of respect to many Arya Samajis who too were massacred by the extremists in the rebellion.
The Moplah Rebellion was given the status of India’s Freedom Struggle against the British by Mahatma Gandhi who in his anxiety to ensure the cooperation of the Muslims in the Independence Movement supported the Khilafat agitation launched by a section of Muslim leaders demanding the restoration of the title of Khaleefa (the Arabic for representative of God) to the Sultan of Turkey who had been vanquished in the First World War.
Though the titans of India’s freedom movement which included the likes of Annie Besant, Sir. C Sankaran Nair (the then executive council member to the Viceroy) warmed Mahatma Gandhi against supporting the Khilafat agitation, the Father of the Nation chose to believe the Muslim brethren. “What happened was that instead of the British, the poor Hindus ended up as victims of their anger and it soon became a proselytization movement. It was never an agrarian struggle or agitation for freedom,” said Prof Issac.
Though politicians and ‘eminent’ historians worked overtime to portray the pogrom as part of freedom struggle, they forget the confidential notes maintained by the officials, out of which Gopalan Nair’s notings have come out as records. Then there are memoirs by K P Kesava Menon, founder editor of Mathrubhumi, Sir C Sankaran Nair (author of Gandhi and Anarchy) K Madhavan Nair which speak the truth, nothing but the truth. Interestingly, there were hundreds of aggressors who took part in the pogrom who drew monthly pension for freedom struggle.