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