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History of 1921 Malabar Rebellion – Burning Issues – Free PDF Download


Malabar rebellion

  • Moplah prisoners go to trial at Calicut on the Malabar Coast in India’s south-western state of Kerala, charged with agitation against British rule in India

  • The Malabar rebellion happened from August 20, 1921 to 1922 in the Malabar region of Kerala, India.
  • The Malabar rebellion of 1921 (also known by the names Moplah massacre, Moplah riots, Mappila riots) started as a resistance against the British colonial rule in Malabar region of Kerala.
  • The popular uprising was also against the prevailing feudal system controlled by elite Hindus

  • The riots, which had led to the deaths of hundreds of Hindus in the Malabar region, still remains a debated topic among historians.
  • Recently, the BJP waded into the debate by dubbing the rebellion the first “jihadi massacre of Hindus” in Kerala.
  •  It said history was distorted, and the uprising, which began as part of the Khilafat Movement, ended up with the massive killings of Hindus.
  • The trigger of the uprising came from the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by the Congress in 1920 along with the Khilafat agitation.
  • The anti-British sentiment fuelled by these agitations affected the Muslim Mapillahs (also known as Moplahs) of south Malabar region of Kerala.
  • tenancy laws that tremendously favoured the landlords and instituted a far more exploitative system for peasants
  • Most of the landlords were Namboodiri Brahmins while most of the tenants were Mapillah Muslims.
  • The Revolt: Fuelled by the fiery speeches by Muslim religious leaders and anti-british sentiments, the Mopillahs launched a violent rebellion. Numerous actions of violence were reported and series of persecutions were committed both against the British and the Hindu landlords.
  • By the end of 1921, the rebellion was crushed by the British who had raised a special battalion, the Malabar Special Force for the riot.
  • Wagon Tragedy: In November 1921, 67 Moplah prisoners were killed when they were being transported in a closed freight wagon from Tirur to the Central Prison in Podanur. They died of suffocation. This event is called the Wagon Tragedy.

  • It had been an uprising of Muslim tenants against British rulers and local Hindu landlords.
  • The uprising, which began on August 20, 1921, went on for several months marked by many bouts of bloodstained events. Some historical accounts state the uprising led to the loss of around 10,000 lives, including 2,339 rebels.
  • It has often been perceived as one of the first nationalist uprisings in southern India. It has even been described as a peasant revolt. In fact, in 1971, the then Kerala government had included the participants of the rebellion in the category of freedom fighters.
  • The incidents of the uprising took place in regions which are currently under the Malappuram district in north Kerala.
  • Contemporary colonial administrators and modern historians differ markedly in their assessment of the incident, debating whether the revolts were triggered off by religious fanaticism or agrarian grievances.
  • Kerala BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan proclaimed that the Malabar rebellion of 1921 was the first case of Jihadi massacre in the state.
  • Rajasekharan went on to note that to consider the large scale murder of Hindus to be part of the freedom struggle is an insult to history. “If it were an agitation against British rule, why were thousands of people butchered and temples destroyed?
  • It is high time we stopped glorifying this massacre, depicting it as freedom struggle.
  • In the run up to the events marking 100 years of the rebellion, the BJP highlighting the loss incurred to the Hindu side in the riot, pointing out that temples had been destroyed and thousands of people (Hindus) had been killed.
  • The party is against glorifying the massacre as a freedom struggle, and is opposed to giving freedom fighters’ pensions to the participants. The BJP wants the relief to go to the dependents of the victims of the “jihadi massacre” instead.



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