‘Moplah rioters’ not freedom fighters: report - The Hindu-07-09-2020
The Indian Council for Historical research (ICHR) has constituted a three-member committee to review the entries in the book Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle 1857-1947, which was released by the Prime Minister on 7th March 2019.
The recent controversy in Kerala over the making of a film on Variyamkunnath Kunhamed Haji, a leading figure of the Mapillah rebellion of 1921. Hence, it makes it important to read what the Moplah Revolt or Mapilla Rebellion was.
The pre-British relations between landlords and tenants were based on a code that provided the tenants with a decent share of the produce.
The British introduced new tenancy laws that tremendously favoured the landlords and instituted a far more exploitative system than before. The new laws deprived them of all guaranteed rights to the land and its produce and in effect rendered them landless.
This change created enormous resentment among the tenants against British rule.
The immediate trigger of the uprising was the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by the Congress in 1920 in tandem with the Khilafat agitation.
The anti-British sentiment fuelled by these agitations found fertile ground among the Muslim Mapillahs of south Malabar living in economic misery which they blamed in large part on British rule. These movements acted as the spark to the Mapillah revolt against the British rulers and their Hindu landlords (Janmi).
Critical analysis of the revolt:
The fiery speeches by Muslim religious leaders that accompanied the Khilafat movement added to the religious fervour of an already desperate peasantry and fuelled their ire against the British and the Hindu landlords leading to the atrocities committed by a segment of the mobilised Mapillahs against Hindus.
The fact that most of the landlords were Namboodiri Brahmins while most of the tenants were Mapillah Muslims compounded the problem.
Significance of the revolt:
The author argues that the Mapillah rebellion of 1921 was one the greatest challenges to British rule between the great uprising of 1857 and the Quit India movement of 1942, and contributed to the national resistance to British colonial rule.