The Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) has deferred its decision on a recommendation to remove the 1921 Malabar Rebellion martyrs including Variamkunnaathu Kunhahamad Haji and Ali Musliyar from the list of India’s freedom fighters.
Though a report of the sub-committee, which reportedly recommended the removal of 382 martyrs from the list of freedom fighters from the fifth volume of the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947), was placed at the council meeting on Sunday, it was decided to forward the report to the Research Project Committee (RPC) of the council. The sub-committee report, which was submitted in a sealed cover, was not opened at the meeting. Instead, it was decided to forward it to the committee for its evaluation.
“The council meeting decided to forward the sub-committee report to the RPC, a statutory body. Research projects need to be first vetted by the committee before they are brought to the general council,” Raghuvendra Tanwar, Chairman, ICHR, told The Hindu.
Incidentally, there were media reports that the sub-committee report was accepted as the martyrs removed from the list.
The committee will scrutinise the report and record its comments before forwarding it to the council. It must have been an oversight that the report was directly placed before the council before the RPC considering it, he said.
The Hindu had earlier reported that the sub-committee had recommended the removal of the Malabar Rebellion leaders, mostly Muslims, from the list. The panel report had triggered a series of political debates in the State with the Sangh Parivar outfits hailing it and the Congress and the Left parties viewing it as an attempt to distort history. Several Muslim organisations had also opposed the suggestions. One mosque in Kochi had put up a marble plaque with the names of all the martyrs inscribed on it as a mark of protest and homage to the dead.
The sub-committee, according to ICHR sources, had checked the FIRs and police records to ascertain the charges levelled against the martyrs. The records indicated that the dead were earlier accused of committing serious offences including rape, murder, abduction, rioting and forced conversions. The panel was of the view that the rebellion that took place at Malabar was a one-sided attack on Hindus. Barring the death of two persons, no Britishers were targeted or killed during the unrest and hence the rebellion could not be considered as part of the freedom struggle, sources said.