‘Moplah rioters’ not freedom fighters: report

ICHR member Issac seeks removal of Malabar Rebellion leaders from martyrs list

Updated - September 06, 2020 11:37 pm IST

Published - September 06, 2020 11:11 pm IST - KOCHI

Variamkunnath Ahmad Haji

Variamkunnath Ahmad Haji

A report submitted to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 2016 had recommended the de-listing of Wagon Tragedy victims and Malabar Rebellion leaders Ali Musliyar, Variamkunnath Ahmad Haji, and the latter’s two brothers from a book on martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. In all, the report had sought the removal of names of 387 ‘Moplah rioters’ from the list.

The book, Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle 1857-1947, was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. The dictionary had left the Sangh Parivar leaders red-faced when the Moplah leaders, whom they believe killed hundreds of Hindus and converted many to Islam, found place on the list of freedom fighters.

Also read: Reports of Hindu-Muslim strife in Malabar baseless, wrote Variamkunnath Kunhamed Haji in The Hindu in 1921

Martyrs from south India

C.I. Issac, an ICHR member, had submitted the 2016 report to the council when the fifth volume covering martyrs of freedom struggle from south India came up for review. The report, accessed by The Hindu , describes Haji as the “notorious Moplah Riot leader” and a “hardcore criminal,” who “killed innumerable innocent Hindu men, women, and children during the 1921 Moplah Riot, and deposited their bodies in a well.”

Haji was arrested by the army, tried in the army court and shot dead on January 20, 1922, it noted.

Also read: Comment | The Mapillah uprising

The review report becomes relevant since the ICHR recently constituted a three-member committee, including Mr. Issac, to review the entries in the dictionary, including those of Haji and Ali Musliyar.

The review report noted that “almost all the Moplah outrages were communal. They were against the Hindu society and done out of sheer intolerance. Thus the following names should be deleted from the yet-to-be published project,” noted Mr. Issac, also the vice president of the Bharatiya Vichara Kendram.

Also read: Medallion brings back memories of the 1921 Malabar uprising

“None of those who died in the Wagon Tragedy were freedom fighters of India as they hoisted the Khilafat flag and established Khilafat and Khilafat courts for a brief period. They were arrested by the army for participating in riots. Around 10 Hindus who participated in the riots too are on the list of persons to be removed from the dictionary,” said Mr. Issac.

The British convicted the rioters after proper trial. These dead were never recognised as freedom fighters elsewhere, he said.

The Hindu Explains |   Why is there a controversy over a film project on the protagonist of 1921 Malabar Rebellion?

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