Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Gandhiji's comments on the Mappila riot

“ My heart bleeds to think that Moplah brethren have gone mad,I am grieved to think that they have looted Hindu homes leaving hundreds of men and women homeless and fondless and they have killed officers. I am grieved to think that they have endeavored forcibly to convert Hindus to islam and by all these acts they have done an injury. “
-          Sep 19, 1921 at Trichanapoly

“The Hindus, instead of running away to save their lives would have been truly non violent and would have covered themselves in Glory and added luster to their faith and won the friendship of their Mussalman assailants if they has stood bare breast with smiles on their lips and died at their post”

      -‘Young India’ May 29 , 1924

 “He who is kind to the cruel ends up being cruel to the kind.” - Old Talmudic saying

"Brutal and unrestrained barbarism" - Sri BR Ambedkar's comments on the riots

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. On 20th August a severe encounter took place between the Moplas and the British forces at Thirurangadi. Roads were blocked, telegraph lines cut, and the railway destroyed in a number of places. As soon as the administration had been paralyzed, the Moplas declared that Swaraj had been established. A certain Ali Musaliar was proclaimed Raja, Khilafat flags were flown, and Ernad and Walluvanad were 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. 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. The number of Hindus who were killed, wounded or converted, is not known. But the number must have been enormous
- Pakistan or Partition of India

Malabar’s Agony - Annie Besant writes on Gandhiji’s ‘Mappila brothers’

" 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."
 - New India, 29 November 1921

Mannur Holocaust ( Nov 8, 1921 )

Kalladithodi and Koormantara are 2 big towns which had arranged watchmen for protection. The attack which usually occured during the night occurred during daytime here. The weapons which were stored at Kalladithodi was seized.  On hearing sounds of gunfire people came out thinking that the army had arrived and were in turn confronted by the rebels. The rebels divided themselves into several groups.  One group went into a killing spree, while the other two groups engaged in  for setting fire to houses and looting. Since the rebels had come in large numbers, the atrocities were also aplenty. 

                        The rioters on 8th November 1921 consisted of 500 men and continued their murderous rampage for two whole days.  They went down to the railway at Mannur. Some of them returned by boats. Sixteen boat loaded with men went to Tirurangadi.  Beside men, children and women were also killed in this raid.  After Mannur, the gang set fire to over 100 houses at neighboring Vallikunnu amsam.  The bodies of the slaughtered people were dumped into the river and Kerala Patrika paper reported 40 Hindus killed and a 7 months pregnant lady dead with the dead fetus protruding out of the slit abdomen.

                        The hideous massacre caused exodus of a large number of Hindus from this area.  'A' Company of M.S.P. from Ramanattukara reached on 9th November morning and found houses still burning and saw many horribly mutilated bodies of Hindus. The MSP killed many rebels who had not left with the main party.  Four rebels were arrested by locals while setting fire to a Hindu house, one a Tirurangadi man wearing a Khilafat badge on his fez. This gang had very few guns but all carried war knives and peculiarly shaped clubs.
- Gopalan Nair P 57 / Madhavan Nair P 236 , 238
/ Press communiqué, Calicut 14th Nov. 1921.

Murders – different strokes

Thenhipalam amsam on the route from Tirurangadi to Ramanattukara was attacked on October 10th and murders committed.  Thirty armed rebels went to the house of the brothers Cheku and Velu asking accommodation for the night and on being refused butchered them while their sister fled.  Several other murders and lootings were committed here.

                        The murders at Tuvvur were after the Dorsets went through Ernad. The victims were men who assisted the troops. The coolies who assisted the Gurkhas were murdered at Vengur while in Muthumana Illam it was refusal to convert which resulted in killing.  

Those killed at Shornur were people who were not known to the rebel leaders and the murders were simple criminal acts. Harmless and poor Hindus, women and children were butchered by people who knew them all their lives.

The well at of death at Muthumana ( Oct - Nov , 1921 )

Muthumana house is in Puttur amsam, Calicut taluk and some of the worst atrocities were perpetrated here by Avovoker Musaliar during October and November 1921.  The house stands to this day on a large tract with the Sri Rama Chokad temple in front of it.  There is a large tank in the temple compound. 

Today, the old temple well has been grilled up after skeletons inside were removed and a new well has been dug in the temple courtyard. The Nagalikavu (Serpent sky line) is situated a short distance from the house.  There is an out cropping of granite with a well which formed part of the sacred grove.  A large number of bodies were recovered from this well.  The small stone idol of the serpent has now been translocated nearer to the house on to a pedestal.

                        Avovoker Musaliar had made Muthumana house his headquarters.  The Namboodiri owners had left taking with them the family diety 'Vettaka Oru Makhan' to Ramanellore near Narikunni.  The family deity had been placed on a raised sanctum sanctorum with a few steps to ascend to it within a hall situated in the house. This pedestal in the sanctum sanatorium became the seat of Avovoker Musaliar. Scores of Hindus were brought in from the countryside, some with their families, and they were offered Islam.  Those who accepted it were converted and detained, or sent away at the Musaliar’s pleasure.  Whoever refused Islam was put to the sword.  Condemned Hindus were marched to the well at the Nagalikavu shrine, beheaded and thrown into the well.  Batches of victims were thus disposed of in this way and about 50 or 60 dead bodies were later found in it. One of the Hindus named Kelappan had a most miraculous escape and has lived to tell the story.  He received two sword cut on the back of the head and neck and fell down.  Others had their heads completely severed but he escaped decapitation by sheer luck.  The rebels did not suppose that any life was left in him and one of them dragged him by the legs and pitched him into the well. The well was almost filled with dead bodies.  Kelappan who was flung on the top of them managed to haul himself up after 2 hours with the aid of a creeper which was hanging down into the well  and hid himself in a clump of trees.  He was refreshed by a little rain and after night-fall  slowly and painfully dragged himself for a distance of 8-9 miles.  He was found next morning at 8 O’ Clock and was sent to the hospital by the S.I.  He was under treatment for a month (Judgement in case No. 32A of 1922 dated 29th July 1922).

                        These acts were confirmed by Avovoker Musaliar but he attributed the beheading to his nephew Kunhi Rayin Musaliar.  He also denied that the Kanara Thangal had visited him at Muthumana Illam.

Some of the finest instances of moral courage were shown by Hindus who deliberately preferring death to Islam. On 28th October 1921 there was a case of 3 brothers and 2 friends captured like other Hindus and taken to the house. While 2 of the brothers and their  2 friends accepted to convert to Islam as the only means of preserving their lives, the second brother refused and accepted death by beheading. It was a horrible way to die, for in all such instances the head was hacked from the shoulders by repeated blows from blunt war knives.

                        Years after, the Namboodiris of Muthumana house returned.  The Idol was again consecrated after sanctifying the spot and the temple and house continues to prosper in the same place till today. 
- Gopalan Nair P55 ( Appendix IX ) / Madhavan Nair P244 / Congress Communiqué on 1st Nov 1921 / Hitchcock P 197

Perversions at Karipath

Karat Moideen Kutty Haji’s gang moved to Karipath house in Urangattiri. Except for some bell metal vessels no valuables were left in the house.  Kalluveettil Kunhalan Kutti (son of Kalluveettil Ahamed Kutty who in turn was helped greatly by the Attapurath Namboodiri) was a part of Karat Moideen Kutty’s gang at Karipath. He stayed there for 15 days. The gang made arrangements to watch the movements of troops.  As per Karat Moideen Kutty’s own admission he converted over 500 Hindus from Vilayil, Arikkod, Iruvetti, Tanur, Parappur, Urangattiri, Vakkalur and other places.  He did not have to stir out of the house as the Hindus were forcibly brought by the rebel Mappilas to there.  V.K. Haji also came here to stir up the rebels to attack Kondotti. However this assault did not materialize.     
                        V.K. Haji in his statement to the police said “I went there because I heard Moideen Kutty Haji was doing many forcible conversions and other wrong things.  Abdu Haji, Koya Kunhi Koya Thangal were also there.  I asked the Hindus whether they came voluntarily.  They said yes.  I told them to run away home and if they wanted to come back later’.  Of course he knew that the consent to convert was an alternative to being hacked to death.

                        Kolangara Kanaran Nair’s report in Kerala Patrika of 26-11-1921 and Kanara Thangal’s statement show some understanding and co-operation between Karat Moideen Kutty Haji and Kanara Thangal on conversions.

Murder of ‘Harlots’ ( Oct 10, 1921 )

Iyyalliath Umma and Kunhatunni were sisters who lived with their mother Ittachitti at Karyavattom. On 10th October 1921, about 100 armed rebels led by Chembrasseri Thangal, who was dressed in a black coat, came to the house of these women. Graves were dug in front of their house. The mother and Kunhattunni were brought out and beheaded and their ears were cut off in order to remove their ear rings. There were a large number of witnesses including the surviving sister. As per the the judgments in cases No 143A of 1922 ( On 21st Nov 1922 ) and case number 142 of 1922 ( On 22nd Dec 1922 ) the accused were sentenced to death. The motive for the crime was that - as per Khilafat rule, immoral women deserved to be beheaded.

Attacks at Nilambur ( August 21, 1921 )

On the night of August 20, the Pukkottur rioters moved 20 miles east of Nilambur instead of moving towards Thirurangadi as expected. There were some 200-300 Pukkottur men along with with some men from Melmuri. They arrived at Nilambur early morning on 21st August ( Sunday ).
The group of rioters was not recognized by the residents of the Kovilagam  for some time as the rebel convoy looked like a procession. The mob was attacked by Veluthedan Narayanan, a ‘velichappad’ ( oracle ) of the Kovilagam temple ( whose family still stays near the Kovilagam ) and slashed several rebels in a frenzy and in turn was hacked to death.
The rioters damaged the front door, but could not enter the Kovilagam.
Another group ran to the river and killed two women who were bathing. One woman pleaded for her small child who was sitting on a nearby rock.
An attempt on the temple was made through the 'Oottupura' but the rebels could not enter the inner chamber as they were  ignorance of the layout.
The Kovilagam women waited upstairs with boiling oil for pouring on the rebels and the men were below with guns. The rebel attack was attack repulsed. Subsequently, the family went to the jungle and suffered great hardship. A child was also born among the refugees during this flight. Finally the refugees finally made their escape using covered boats down the Chaliyar. They arrived at Calicut on the morning of 21st September 1921.

Exodus in Arikkode

After the orgy of murder and forcible conversions at Arikkod, people realized that no amount of bravery was enough and the exodus of refugees started.  Karat Moideen Kutty Haji denied his role in the murder and blamed 3 others Payanadan MayanImbichi Mammed Kutti and Ibrayan Kutti. It was Payanadan Mayan, the murderer of Attapurath Namboodiri, who shot the Nilgiri S.I. near Edakkara on 3rd January 1922. He later surrendered at Pandikkad.  The rebellion spread to Urangattiri amsam and houses like Kizhakampad, Naduvathedam were looted. 
The Trikkallur temple lying in the Urangattiri amsam of Ernad taluk  was damaged as was the idol and the temple burnt.

Death before dishonour ( Sep 26, 1921 )

On 26th September 1921, 60 rioters with a gun and some swords broke the culvert of Angadipuram - Pandikkad road 3rd mile. At Pullikuth half a mile away they saw a party of refugees going to Angadipuram fleeing from Chemmaniyad and Melattur. The refugees were fleeing mappilas led by V.K. Haji and Chembrasseri Tangal.  The rebels outraged the women among the refugees. Unable to bear this, Taliyalik Raman and his brothers Ayyappunni and Ayyappan attacked the rebels with their knives.  Raman was shot dead by Pattani Mammath, the man with the gun, and his brothers were severely injured with swords.  By then, 200 refugees had collected on the scene and the rebels bolted towards MelatturAmu Sahib arrived with troops but the rebels had fled leaving a bomb and some implements used for breaking the culvert.

Desecration of Mondambalath Musad’s temple at Rorayur took place 3 miles from Kondotti and was done by the Mongam triangle gang. Prior to the rebellion, a member of this family had arranged a Khilafat meeting !
- Hitchcock P 171

Karunakaran Nair - Do and Die ( Sep 24, 1921 )

On September 24, at 8 am, 300 Mappilas attacked Vilakinal Kuttipurath house at Luthur near Kottakkal and forcibly entered it.  The rebels were attacked by one Karunakaran Nair who killed 4 rebels and was in turn killed by the rebels who looted his house.

- Hitchcock P 71 / Madhavan Nair P 210

On the Christians at Kodakal ( Oct 2, 1921 )

Kodakal is situated 1 ½ miles Northwest of Edakulam Railway Station and ½ mile north of Tirunavaya.  There is a tile factory whose chimney can be seen from the Edakulam station. The manager Mr.Coultass was held as hostage by the Mappilas during the Tirur phase of the rebellion.  About 1000 Christians reside here.  The Tile factory stands roughly on the spot where the Zamorin stood during the days of Maamankam.  Most of the Christians were employed in the tile factory.

                        On 2nd October at 11 pm 200-300 Mappilas converged on Edakulam Bazaar.  The rebels sought out a Christian tailor but he was hiding below a culver having received prior information from friendly neighboring Mappilas . The rebels with lighted torches moved in a procession shouting  threats promising dire consequences. They  went to Tirunavaya but could not get at the Adhigari.  They then went to Kodakal, entered the tea shop of one Sukumaran, and Killed Jacob and Isaac who were sleeping there.  There they attacked a school  master Yeshumitran and his 5 children, the former died while the children received injuries.  The houses were surrounded, occupants thrown out and looted. Finally hearing that troops were on the way the Mappilas  left.

                        The Christians fled after this, some to Calicut and some to Palghat.  Mr.   Coultass of the Tile Factory had to leave Kodakal by November 11th and seek police protection in Tirur. Dacoities and lootings were the order of the day.
- Madhavan Nair, P 217

Attacks on the Chaliyars ( weavers ) of Tanur ( Oct 6, 1921 )

On 1st October the police conducted a raid on Muchikkal near Tanur  The street at Keraladeshwarapuram near Tanur was known as a 'weaver street' with a good numbers in the weaver residing there. Mappilas had inflicted serious injuries on 6 weavers of whom 2 had grievous wounds.  Both the Mappilas and weavers ran away but the events did not end there.

                        Five days later, on 6th night, a band of 200 or so Mappilas from the amsams east of Tanur attacked the weaver street at Keraladeshwarapuram 1 ½ miles south of Tanur Railway Station and killed 7 men and wounded 4 others including 2 children.  Several houses were burnt.  A few of the assailants were identified but the amsams from which they came were very difficult to tackle then. The weavers (Chaliyars) left as refugees, to Calicut and Trichur and they were the first to receive help from the Congress Relief Committee at Calicut.

- Madhavan Nair P 216 / Tottenham P 247

The well of death at Thuvur ( Sep 25, 1921 )

  On 25th Morning nearly 100 houses with the sleeping inhabitants of Tuvvur were surrounded by Mappilla rebels. The residents were ordered out and some escaped.  The men had their legs and hands tied.  The women and children were unharmed.  All the houses were burnt  The prisoners were taken to Cherikamalkunnu and from there to Pangodu. On the eastern side of the land called Palurkuzhi parambu there is a  rock which stands below a small hillock. The trial of the prisoners took place here. Some versions attribute the atrocities to V.K. Haji, some to Chembrasseri Thangal.  The latter was given credit by a large section for this deed. K. Madhavan Nair, the leader of the Congress, says that he was told by certain Mappilas of Tuvvur that the culprit was a relative of Chembrasseri Kunhikoya Thangal called Imbichikoya Thangal.

                        The well which attained, notoriety is situated midway between Tuvvur and Karuvarakundu on the slope of the bare hillock.  The meeting of about 4,000 followers of Chembrasseri Thangal from the neighboring amsoms was presided by the Tangal sitting in the shadow of the small tree.  More than 40 Hindus were taken to the Tangal with their hands tied behind their back. Three people were shot dead; 34 Hindus and 2 Mappilas ( who were living with the Hindus ) were taken one by one to the well 15 feet away from the rock.  Just at the brink there is a small tree. The executioner stood here and after cutting on the neck with his sword pushed the body into the well.  Many of the people who were thus thrown in were not dead, but escape was impossible.  The sides of the well are cut in hard laterite rock and there are no steps.  It is said that some people were crying out from the well even on the 2nd  day of the massacre.  They must have died a particularly horrible death. ( There is another story associated with the Thuvvur well. It is said that after two days a nearby Mappila named 'Kandarmadi' climbed down the well using a ladder and hacked the remaining Hindus to death using a machete ) At the time when this massacre was perpetrated it was the rainy season, and there was some water in the well.  E. Rama Menon, B.A. visited the spot along with Pandit Rishi Ram the Arya Samaj Missionary. At this time the well was dry. The visitors had a look at the gruesome sight.  The bottom was entirely filled with human bones and 30 skulls were counted.  One skull was particularly noticeable as it was neatly divided into two halves by means of a saw. This was the skull of an old man pensioned head constable Kumara Panikker. K. Madhavan Nair visited the spot with Srinivasa Sastri a few months after the rebellion and he counted 20 skulls.

                        In the Zamorin's  records is a letter which states – In Tuvvur most houses were looted and burnt, men with hands tied  behind were taken, some flayed alive, some hacked all over, some hacked half to death and thrown into a well.  Two were killed  mid way to the well. An 80 year old man bedridden for 10 months was killed there. In all 36 were killed, 33 killed were put in a well of which 3 were Embrandiris. The Tuvvur case was tried in the Court of the Special Judge Malabar E. Pakenham Walsh and the accused Achuthodi Kunhappi sentenced to death on 25th Jan. 1923.
                        The leaders of the Tuvvur massacre were identified. The witnesses included the widow of the head constable Kumara Panikker who was stripped, her husband was tied up and their and house set on fire. Her husband and another man who were sleeping were taken away.  She was informed of the murder of her husband by a local man who had managed to escape the massacre. Achuthodi Kunhappi and Amakundan Mammad were two of the rebels who came to her house.  The former had came earlier demanding a gun and he was armed with a gun when he came to their house on that day.  The latter tied her husband’s hands.

                        There were three other witness to the crime who had been seized by the rebels but let off. One by promising Rs.100/- and to help to capture his brother the Amsam Menon. Another was let off because be surrendered some jewels.  All the relatives of these people who were seized with them were killed.  The information about the crime had reached the Sub Inspector at Pandikkad within 3 days.
                        All the witnesses were consistent about the horrible massacre.  There are 4 leaders Chembrasseri Thangal, Imbichikoya Thangal, Amakundan Mammad and Achuthodi Kunhappi.  It was Imbichikoya Thangal who ordered Kumara Panikker to be put to death for rendering assistance to the Military.  It was Achuthodi Kunhappi with Amakundan Mammad’s assistance who sawed through the skull with a saw and finally the latter finished the work by cutting his neck with a sword and throwing the body into the well.  One Murthi Embrandiri, priest of a temple was killed by Chembrasseri Tangal. There was a gruesome competition among the Mappilas as to who should have the pleasure of killing the captives.  The ‘cases were tried under Section 121(waging war), Section 110 (abetment) and Section 302 (Murder) and accused was found guilty.

                         - Madhavan Nair P 207/ Gopalan Nair P 56 / Hitchcock P 287          

A lady makes a heroic stand ( Sep 20, 1921 )

On the night of 20th September 1921, Eranhikal Veluthedath Kani of Ugrapuram desam, Arikkod Amsom, seeing a gang of Mappilas armed with war knives and sticks advancing to her house, sent away her sister and children to the jungle and stayed home to save their property and the cash in her possession.  She shut the door on the Mappillas, and when they broke it open she attacked them with a chopper, cutting 4 of them before they overpowered her.  She was brutally assaulted and had her jaw broken in two places in addition to other injuries. Her money was looted, and though she was left for dead she managed to reach the special party at Chikkod and on 25th September. She was sent to Calicut where she eventually recovered.  One Palliyil Krishnan Nair who came to the rescue of the lady was also severely beaten and left for dead.
-       Hitchcock P 71/ Madhavan Nair P 210

The Manjeri incidents

Some interesting anecdotes are given by K Madhavan Nair, the congress leader,  on the Manjeri events of August 21. 

The looters arrived in batches at Manjeri and every batch took what they could with no difference of looting landlord or servant. In fact many landlord houses including Manjeri Kovilogam were left intact.

 Arukizhayi is a place in Manjeri with a large number of school masters and Lawyers. Hindus predominate. Here every single house was looted. Even known Mappilas changed their attitude. T. Narayanan Nair, a principal advocate of Manjeri ran with his wife and children and no other belongings to Madhavan Nair’s house. On hearing that his wife house where his wife and children stayed was to be looted, Madhavan Nair ran there 2 kilometers away from Manjeri  Court and found a gang looting the neighboring Brahmin’s house. Madhavan Nair intervened, the gang turned on him but to his luck some Mappilas recognized him and without any further action they left the place. Large number of looters were seen by Madhavan Nair ransacking every possible Hindu house. 

On the afternoon of 24th August V.K.Haji reached Manjeri crossing the field in front of Madhavan Nair’s house with a group of 25 Mappilas led by a rebel carrying a flag and the others with guns. V. K. Haji tried to control the looting in Manjeri on a request by Madhavan Nair but refused to give up his violent rebellion. On 26th August he left Manjeri on receiving news about the Pukkottur battle but he did not participate in it.

            The Army column under Colonel Hebert reached Manjeri on 2nd September.
-       Madhavan Nair P 150, 116, 172 / Tottenham P79

The Rape of Nannambra ( Nov 14, 1921 )

Nannambra is 3 kilometers east of Tanur and the  Puzhikal house there was  headed by Narayanan Nair. This 65 year old Kaaranavar was reluctant to leave his Nalukettu and fertile land and he chose to stay on with his three children. His wife house was 1 km away. On the night of November 14, the rebels attacked Puzhikal house and the house of their relative Kodinji amsam adhigari of Vetiyam house Kunjunni Nair. The adhigari’s brother Sekharan Nair and younger brother Krishnan Nair were slashed, the former recovered at Tirur hospital and the latter succumbed to his injuries. The adhigari rushed to Puzhikal when he heard screams and after 2 hours Saw Narayanan Nair and his younger 14 year old son Gopalan escaping. There rebels led by Abdullah Kutti with the connivance of the Mappila watchmen of Puzhikal house committed the atrocities there.

            The twenty women of the house were attacked and then shut in, the whole house plundered, five nephews and elder son were killed. In all, nine occupants were seized and brought to a nearby rock where they were hacked. Five died on the spot, two lingered for a few more hours. Two grievously wounded were left in a pool of blood. The 18 years old younger daughter was taken away by the Mappila watchman of the house. The watchman had taken an active part in the atrocities. A boy, Madhavan Nair, was killed and thrown into a well. Narayanan Nair managed to escape. 

            The abducted girl was taken by the Mappilas to Kaprat house with their loot and accompanied by Kodinji Pallikal Pukoya Thangal. They spent a day there and then went to Cherur. There the Thangal converted the girl, gave silk Mappila dress and as per paper reports was married off to him. But the girl was shifted to various places with different people accompanied by guards. The Thangal surrendered on 23rd December 1921 to Sub Inspector (later Circle Inspector) Rao Sahib A.C. Govindhan Nambiar. The same day at 1 p.m, on receiving information that Abdullah Kutty, Kunhalavi and 4 others were hiding in Abid Haji’s house in Valiyora Amsam, he informed ‘E’ Company MSP headed by Mr.Chrsley who surrounded the house and on being fired returned fire. Kunhalavi and Abdhulla Kutti, the former with a sword and the latter with a gun and sword were shot as were 5 others. Except the 2 leaders, others were not identified, one being a boy.

On persuasion in police custody, the Tangal said the girl was in Tirurangadi and on 25th December 1921 sub Inspector Govindan Nambiar succeeded in recovering the girl after a detention of 6 weeks and after suffering indescribable indignities.

            This case (No, 116 and 116 A of 1922) was tried by the special Judge who remarked “to my mind this murderous attacks indicate something more than mere fanaticism or lust for looting. There is no evidence that the murders were committed because the murdered persons refused to embrace Islam, or resisted the rebels, or refused to show property. The rebels seem to have meant to kill every male in the place whom they could catch hold of, and the only survivors were those who either got away or were left as dead. The abduction of a young girl and a boy shows the deliberate ferocity of the attack”. 5 of the accused were hanged and 5 transported for life.
            Much of the looted property from the house Nannambra adhigari was recovered from a well in Kadapuzhanji house in Kannamangalam 9 miles away from where Abdullah Kutti lived for some time.
            Some of the Mappila watchmen had turned traitors but others had resisted.
-       K Madhavan Nair, P 239

Typical rebels

Kollapramban Abdu Haji, a fanatical ignorant, brute, thirsting for blood and ready to die,(statement of his colleague  Karat Moideen Kutti Hajj) hated Hindus. He even  wanted to murder congress leaders K  Madhavan Nair and U. Gopala Menon  and hated their names being linked with the  Khilafat leaders like the Ali brothers . He committed a large number of atrocities, was a member of the Pukkottur gang and belonged to Melmuri. ( K Madhavan Nair and U Gopala Menon were leaders of the Congress who toured Malabar for setting up Congress- Khilafat committees )
-       Hitchcock, P190
            Maravakulath Abdulla Kutti, the Tirurangadi house breaker released from Manjeri lock up became another prominent rebel gang leader. He committed a large number of atrocities operating from Tirurangadi along with Chittambalam Kunhalavi.
- Hitchcock, P194
The notorious Nannambra atrocities were his crowning achievement.

The Riot begins

The two important incidents which caused widespread criticism against the police for  inaction were the Tanalur and Pukkottur incidents. In both cases the police had attempted to make arrests but failed. These events culminated in the  start of the riot. 

The Pukkottur affair
On August 1, 1921 a large crowd tried to barge into the Pukkottur Kovilagam shouting that they wanted the heads of the Police inspector, village officials and the Thirumalpad. The men were armed with swords, knifes, spears and batons and several had khilafat badges on their caps. Many brandished swords saying that they would convert the Kovilagam into a mosque. The crowd was finally persuaded to return to their mosque. The gathering of the crowd was pre-arranged and a Nalcora drum serving as the signal. The total crowd of nearly 2000 were armed. Mappila women were seen near the field with their faces covered peculiarly, some with sticks and some with prayer beads exhorting even young boys to take part in the fight. Though the Police inspector M Narayana Menon ends his account about Pukkottur with the statement ‘ There is no fear of any further trouble at Pukkottur ‘; it was the start of the events leading to the rebellion.
-       K Madhavan Nair , P95
The Tanalur incident
- On 3rd August 1921 at Tanalur near Tirur some toddy tappers were assaulted by Mappilas. The assault was part of the anti liquor campaign  in the name of Khilafat.The accused were  protected by a local mob acting as a body guard, a form of resistance to Police intervention. The police sub inspector present could not do anything. The inspector Rao Bahadur K Neelakantan Nair came, saw the local Khilafat leader and many Mappilas. The accused having absconded, the leaders promised to produce him, but failed to keep the promise.
The reins of power were steadily and surely slipping away from the authorities.
-       Tottenham, P27

Start of the 'Direct action'

Small incidents as if to test the authorities resolve went unchecked. The violent men were not dealt with and this was a sign of the evil that would overtake Malabar.

- On 12th July 1921 Ali Musaliar and his volunteers told the Panampuzha ferry man near Tirurangadi not to charge fees, as Government need not be paid. A Khilafat boat would be henceforth kept at the ferry. The local police could not make arrests or even question the accused in the face of organised opposition.
- On July 24, 1921 a  pro khilafat Ulama was announced at Ponnani. Ali Musaliar with 50 – 100 armed volunteers with big khilafat knifes marched under a red flag shouting slogans.
The police waited on the bridge one mile east of Ponnani and there they tried to obstruct Ali Musaliar’s gang which was led by him and his two assistants Lavakutti and Kunhalavi. The agitators pushed aside the Police. The sub Inspector was beaten and his cap fell down into the stream and ‘Like children’s boat’ went adrift. The marchers  reached the meeting by small paths and the meeting was a big success.
            This incident was the first violent act since the non co-operation movement of the Khilafat started on the 1st August 1920.
- On 29th July Ali Musaliar went in a procession with volunteers and conducted special prayers for a Kabul man who had died recently and the proceedings of the Karachi meeting were read in the Mosque.
            A toddy shop keeper’s coolie and a woman were assaulted by Mappilas at Palathingal and toddy pots broken.
-       Tottenham , P16

The Khilafat movement and the lessons of History

The Malabar rebellion, as it is popularly known, was part and parcel of the Khilafat movement started by Gandhiji along with the Muslim league. The Khilafat movement, as its name clearly states, was aimed at restoring the Khilafa of Turkey to his throne. Thus the moment sought to tap into the pan Islamic identity of the Indian Muslim. 

The Khilafat moment led to the empowerment of the Muslim League, not as part of the nationalist political mosaic, but as a sectarian outfit. Ultimately this led to the the creation of Muslim enclaves within and without India.

In the Malabar region of Kerala, the movement morphed into a frightening form. From the womb of the Khilafat emerged a monster which murdered, burned and raped its way through wide swathes of this land. It left behind a dazed Hindu population, which never expected, much less deserved, the atrocities committed by its 'muslim brothers'. The holocaust left behind refugees, desecrated temples, homes looted and burned. And… women, women ravaged through unspeakable atrocities.
Many have tried to sweep the incidents of 1921under the carpet. Some have made a 'secular' statement out of it with politically correct movies and plays. Others have gone a step further and justified the atrocities as isolated incidents in course of a freedom struggle for which the Communist government had allotted pension ! Isolated incidents? Evidence points to the contrary. Overwhelming evidence.

Some may ask: why go into the past? Let bygones be bygones. And I ask: does the past go away? Are we free from history?
History is taught and studied with great care so that its lessons are not forgotten. We study it with the belief that its truth will set us free. We know that history has a funny habit of biting us in the behind if it is ignored. 

It cannot be said that the history of the events of 1921 has been ignored by the successive governments of state and nation. But it can be undoubtedly stated that the teaching of history has been selective. 

You have learned about the 'wagon tragedy' at school.

But what about the events of Tuvvur? Have you heard about the well at Tuvvur? 

Have you come across the events at Muthumana Illam in any textbook? Are these not tragedies in the same scale of the ‘wagon tragedy’? Is it that the innocents who perished inside the wells at Tuvvur and Muthumana were less innocent than the Mappila agitators who died inside the wagon? Were they less human?

This document is not a comprehensive compilation of the incidents of 1921-22. The happenings associated with the Mappila riot are too voluminous to be included in any single document. 

           Our effort here is to shed light on a few incidents and give a better understanding of the Holocaust in Malabar.

About Me

I believe that the greatest Hindu deficient is not unity. It is COURAGE.