Malabar rebellion

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The Malabar rebellion (also known as the Moplah rebellion and Māppila Lahaḷa in Malayalam) was an armed uprising in 1921 against British authority and Hindus in the Malabar region of Southern India by Mappilas and the culmination of Mappila riots that recurred throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. The 1921 rebellion began as a reaction against a heavy-handed crackdown on the Khilafat Movement, a campaign in defense of the Ottoman Caliphate, by the British authorities in the Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar.

Quotes[edit]

  • The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplas in Malabar against the Hindus were indescribable. All over Southern India, a wave of horrified feeling had spread among the Hindus of every shade of opinion, which was intensified when certain Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of " congratulations to the Moplas on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion". Any person could have said that this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Moslem unity. But Mr. Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Moslem unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplas and the Khilafats who were congratulating them. He spoke of the Moplas as the " brave God-fearing Moplas who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious ". Speaking of the Muslim silence over the Mopla atrocities Mr. Gandhi told the Hindus:
    " The Hindus must have the courage and the faith to feel that they can protect their religion in spite of such fanatical eruptions. A verbal disapproval by the Mussalmans of Mopla madness is no test of Mussalman friendship. The Mussalmans must naturally feel the shame and humiliation of the Mopla conduct about forcible conversions and looting, and they must work away so silently and effectively that such a thing might become impossible even on the part of the most fanatical among them. My belief is that the Hindus as a body have received the Mopla madness with equanimity and that the cultured Mussalmans are sincerely sorry of the Mopla's perversion of the teaching of the Prophet"
    • B. R. Ambedkar, Ambedkar, Bhimrao. Pakistan or the Partition of India. Chapter 6.
  • 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 organizations, the Khuddam-i-Kaba (servants of the Mecca Shrine) and the Central Khilafat Committee. 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. Knives, swords and spears were secretly manufactured, bands of desperadoes collected for an attack on British authority.... But what baffled most was the treatment accorded by the Moplas to the Hindus of Malabar. 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.
    • B. R. Ambedkar, Ambedkar, Bhimrao. Pakistan or the Partition of India. Chapter 6.
  • They murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatize. Somewhere about a lakh of people were driven from their homes with nothing but the 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.
    • Besant, Annie. The Future of Indian Politics: A Contribution To The Understanding Of Present-Day Problems P252. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1428626050.
  • "It would be well if Mr. Gandhi be taken into Malabar to see with his own eyes the ghastly horror which have been created by his preaching and of his “loved brothers” Mohammed and Shaukal Ali. Mr. Gandhi asked the Moderates to compel the Government to suspend hostilities, i.e. to let loose the wolves to destroy what lives are left. The Murderers, the looters, the ravishers have put into practice the teachings of paralyzing the Government by making war on the Government in their own way. How does Mr. Gandhi like the Mopla spirit, as shown by one of the prisoners in the hospital, who was dying from the results of asphyxiation? He asked the surgeon, if he was going to die and the surgeon answered that he feared he would not recover. “Well, I am glad that I killed 14 infidels” said the ‘Brave, God-fearing Mopla’, whom Mr. Gandhi so much admires who “are fighting for what they consider” as religion, and in a manner they consider as religious”. Men who consider it “religious” to murder, rape, loot, to kill women and little children, cutting down whole families, have to be put under restraint in any civilized society. Mr. Gandhi was shocked when some Parsi ladies had their saris torn on, and very properly, yet the God fearing hooligans had been taught that it was sinful to wear foreign cloth, and doubtless felt they were doing a religious act; can he not feel a little sympathy for thousands of women left with only rage, driven from home, for little children born of the dying mothers on roads in refugee camps ? The misery is beyond description. Girl wives, pretty and sweet, with eyes half blind with weeping, distraught with terror, women who have seen their husbands backed to pieces before their eyes, in the way “Moplas consider as religious”, old women tottering, whose faces become written with anguish and who cry at a gentle touch and a kind look waking out of a stupor of misery only to weep, men who have lost all – hopeless, crushed, desperate. I have walked among thousands of them in the refuge camps, and some times heavy eyes would lift as a cloth was laid gently on the bare shoulder and a faint watery smile of surprise would make the face even more piteous than the stupor. Eyes full of appeal, of agonized despair, of hopeless entreaty, of helpless anguish, thousands of them camp after camp, “Shameful inhumanity proceeding in Malabar “says Mr. Gandhi Shameful inhumanity indeed. Wrought by the Moplas, and where are the victims, saved from extermination by British and India swords. For be it remembered the Moplas began the whole home business; the Government intervened to save their victims and these thousands have been saved. Mr. Gandhi would have hostility suspended – so that the Moplas may sweep down on the refugee camps, and finish their work”. Let me finish within beautiful story told to me. Two Pulayas the lowest of the submerged classes, were captured with others and given the choice between Islam and Death. These, the outcast of Hinduism, the untouchables, so loved the Hinduism which had been so unkind a step-mother to them, that they chose to die Hindus rather than to live Muslim. May the God of both, Muslim and Hindus send his messengers to these heroic souls, and give them rebirth into the faith for which they died.”
    • Annie Besant: Malabar’s Agony – Annie Besant writes on Gandhiji’s ‘Mappila brothers’ – New India, 29 November 1921
  • You are aware of a Muslim group in Kerala called the Moplahs. The only contribution of these people in the Freedom movement was that, during the Khilafat agitation of 1921, they carried out a brutal massacre of Hindus in Malabar. They plundered thousands of Hindu homes and burnt Hindu villages, they raped Hindu women and destroyed Hindu temples. But you know what? Such of those Moplahs as are still alive are honoured by the Governmnt of India as 'freedom fighters' and given monthly pension on that basis!
    • A. Chatterjee, Hindu nation, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.561
  • Shortly after the worst of all riots between Moslems and Hindus, when the Moplah Mohammedans butchered hundreds of unarmed Hindus and offered their prepuces as a covenant to Allah, these same Moslems were stricken with famine; Gandhi collected funds for them from all India, and, with no regard for the best precedents, forwarded every anna, without deduction for "overhead," to the starving enemy.
  • Soon after, [Mahatma Gandhi] did something much worse; he praised the 'brave' Moplah butchers of Hindus in Malabar for "being true to their religion as they understood it", and denounced the British Government of India for putting down the gangsters. (Moplahs who got killed by the British are now being hailed as freedom fighters!)
    • S.R.Goel, Preface, in Goel, Sita Ram (ed.) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy.
  • "The first warning was sounded when the question of condemning the Moplas for their atrocities on Hindus came up in the Subjects Committee. The original resolution condemned the Moplas wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments till it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Moslem leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed the resolution and there was no wonder. But I was surprised, an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that the Mopla country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplas. Therefore, the Moplas were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. And if the Hindus became Mussalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplas was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only. There were other indications also, showing that the Mussalmans considered the Congress to be existing on their sufferance and if there was the least attempt to ignore their idiosyncracies the superficial unity would be scrapped asunder."
    • Swami Shraddhanand in the Liberator of 26 August 1926. Shraddanand, Swami (26 August 1926). "The Liberator". quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • But it is possible that your Ladyship is not fully apprised 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 babe protruding from the mangled corpse; 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 hapless 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 hell-hounds could conceive of; of thousands of our homesteads reduced to cinder-mounds out of sheer savagery and 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 piece or two in the streets of Calicut, to buy salt or chilly or betel-leaf - rice being mercifully provided by the various relief agencies.
    • The Rani of Nilambur in a petition to Lady Reading in Gopalan Nair, Diwan Bahadur (1922). Moplah Rebellion , 1921.
  • The first considerable religious riot in India under British rule was the so-called Mopla rebellion of 1921 which occurred in Malabar as an offshoot of the Khilafat Movement. The Moplas burst into unprecedented violence against the British, following upon the Khilafat Committee’s call for the same addressed to the believing population of Malabar. As it turned out, most of the casualties in this jihãd were Hindus rather than the British. Hundreds of Hindu women jumped into wells to save their honour, others being ravished and slaughtered with absolute indifference by blood-thirsty mujãhids. Hundreds of corpses of Hindu women as well as children were recovered from the wells after the end of the riots. The call for this jihãd had been pronounced by the Ali Brothers, Hasrat Mohani, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Mahatma Gandhi himself acknowledged these atrocities as part of Islam’s holy war. He referred to the mujãhids as “God-fearing Moplas” and said: “They were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious.” Needless to say, such manner of fighting for such a cause is the essence of an Islamic jihãd. It should be mentioned that leaders like Azad gave the call for jihãd against the British rather than the Hindus, but it is not known how they intended to confine the war against a single class of infidels.
    • Majumadāra, S. (2001). Jihād: The Islamic doctrine of permanent war. ch. 10

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