100 YEARS SINCE THE MAPPILA REVOLT, NOW BEING ERASED FROM HISTORY

On 24 August, a committee of 3 members from the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) reviewed the names of ‘freedom fighters’ from 1857 to the independence in 1947, and has decided to remove 387 names of martyrs who died in the Malabar Rebellion of 1921. This comes at a time when there is growing concerns among civil society and academia of the social sciences regarding the dilution of historic facts and erasure of key players in the country’s past.ICHR had reviewed the named entered into the ‘The Dictionary of Martyrs, India’s Freedom Struggle from 19857-1947’ released by the prime minister last year. The decision comes as to remove the names of those died in the mopplah revolt, including significant figures in the rebellion – Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji and Ali Musliyar.

The rebellion that began in august 1921, and ended in 1922 was a conflict between the mopplah peasants and the British government along with the Hindu landlords of Malabar. The agency given to powerful Hindu landlords was seen as an act of oppression by the abrahminic Muslim tenants. The conflict which became a blood bath and cost upto 10,000 lives. The British government was known to have taken a brutal approach, imposed the colonial martial law in south Malabar during the rebellion. Today, it is imperative to not reduce pre-independence resistance to the British empire as merely nationalist as it was may aspects that played a role in the several rebellions that occurred around the country. The influence of the khilafat movement and the allegiance to the Ottoman Empire is cited as the key reasons to eliminate the names from the list.

Right wing mouthpieces have been contributing to the narrative that the mopplah resistance was not ‘for the country’, but as social scientists have argued, nationalism was not a monolithic concept, it was diverse and had each of its own qualities for each resistance group. Notions of decoloniality aren’t a singular domain but differs from cause, change and community. Both the CPI(M) and the Congress have come out with dissenting voices against this form of erasure of anti-colonial history.

 

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