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The Moplah Rebellion (also known as the "Moplah Riots", "Maappila Lahala" in Malayalam) was a British-Muslim and Hindu-Muslim conflict in Kerala that occurred in 1921. During the early months of 1921, multiple events including the Khilafat movement and the Karachi resolution fueled the fires of rebellion amongst the Mappila Muslim community (Moplah is a British spelling). Thousands of Hindus were murdered, raped, and forcibly converted as a part of the riots.[1][2]

According to one view, the reasons for the Moplah rebellion was religious revivalism among the Muslim Mappilas, and hostility towards the landlord Hindu Nair, Nambudiri Jenmi community and the British administration that supported the latter. The Moplah Riots of 1921 were the most notable, although they had been preceded by several other minor riots since the 19th century.

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Rebellion and response

On Aug 20, the first incident of the rebellion occurred at Tirurangadi when the District Magistrate of Calicut with the help of troops attempted to arrest a few Moplah leaders who were in the possession of arms, resulting in clashes.

Arsonists took to the street, burning and destroying government property. The initial focus was on the government, but when the limited presence of the government was eliminated, Moplahs turned their full attention on attacking Hindus. One Mohommed Haji was proclaimed the Caliph of the Moplah Khilafat and flags of Islamic Caliphate were flown. Ernad and Walluvanad were declared Khilafat kingdoms[3].

By the end of 1921 the situation was brought back under control. The British administration raised a special quasi-military (or Armed Police) battalion, the Malabar Special Police (MSP). These police recruits were trained by the British Indian Army, and during its initial days the recruits were non-Muslims. The MSP attacked the rioters, eventually subduing them.

Annie Besant stated: "They Moplahs murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh (100,000) of people were driven from their homes with nothing but their clothes they had on, stripped of everything. Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India."[4]

Excerpts from a petition to Lady Reading, the wife of the then Viceroy of India from Rani of Nilambur

'We, the Hindu women of Malabar of varying ranks and stations in life who have recently been overwhelmed by the tremendous catastrophe known as the Moplah rebellion, take the liberty to supplicate your Ladyship for sympathy and succour.'

Your Ladyship is doubtless aware that though our unhappy district has witnessed many Moplah outbreaks in the course of the last 100 years, the present rebellion is unexampled in its magnitude as well as unprecedented in its ferocity. But it is possible that your Ladyship is not fully appraised of all the horrors and atrocities perpetrated by the fiendish rebels -of the many wells and tanks filled up with the mutilated, but often only half dead bodies of our nearest and dearest ones who refused to abandon the faith of our fathers; of pregnant women cut to pieces and left on the roadsides and in the jungles, with the unborn babies protruding from the mangled corpses; of our innocent and helpless children torn from our arms and done to death before our eyes and of our husbands and fathers tortured, flayed and burnt alive; of our helpless sisters forcibly carried away from the midst of kith and kin and subjected to every shame and outrage which the vile and brutal imagination of these inhuman hellhounds could conceive of; of thousands of our homesteads reduced to circular mounds out of sheer savagery in a wanton spirit of destruction; of our places of worship desecrated and destroyed and of the images of the deity shamefully insulted by putting the entrails of slaughtered cows where flower garlands used to lie, or else smashed to pieces; of the wholesale looting of hard earned wealth of generations reducing many who were formerly rich and prosperous to publicly beg for a pie or two in the streets of Calicut, to buy salt or betal leaf -rice being mercifully provided by the various relief agencies of Government.

Wagon incident

Arrested Muslim rioters were to be transferred to the Central Prison in Pothanur (near Coimbatore). They were bundled into a Goods/Freight wagon, and the train started its journey. At Pothanur it was found out that the jail was full to its maximum capacity, and the prisoners were ordered to be taken back. During this time, 66 of the 100 or so rioters had suffocated to death in the closed iron wagon.

According to official records, the government lost 43 troops with 126 wounded while the Moplahs lost 3,000 (with Moplah accounts putting the number at over 10,000).

Notes

  1. ^ Hindu culture during and after Muslim rule: survival and subsequent challenges
  2. ^ http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/may/09rajeev.htm
  3. ^ O P Ralhan (1996). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh : National, Regional, Local. Anmol Publications PVT . LTD.. p. 297.  
  4. ^ Besant, Annie. The Future Of Indian Politics: A Contribution To The Understanding Of Present-Day Problems P252. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1428626050.  

See also

External links

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