BJP, Congress spar over Malabar Rebellion

BJP national vice president A P Abdullakutty supported RSS leader Ram Madhav’s claim that the Malabar rebelllion was one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India.

Published: 23rd August 2021 11:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2021 11:54 PM   |  A+A-

AP Abdullakutty

BJP national vice president AP Abdullakutty (Photo| Facebook)


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid a raging debate over whether the Malabar rebellion was a revolt against the British or a communal riot, the Congress and BJP on Monday sparred on the issue, with the former accusing the saffron party of "adopting a divide and rule policy of British colonialists" and the latter sticking it to its claim that it was a Taliban type movement.

Days after RSS leader Ram Madhav claimed that the Malabar rebellion, which is also known as the Moplah (Muslim) riots of 1921, was one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India, BJP national vice president A P Abdullakutty endorsed it, alleging that "the leader of the riots, Variyankunnath Kunjahammed Haji, was the first head of the Taliban in Kerala.

Talking to reporters in Kozhikode after attending a programme on Sreenarayana Guru Jayanti, Abdullakutty also claimed that the family of legendary communist leader and the first chief minister of Kerala, EMS Namboothiripad, was also a "victim of that riot."

"Variyankunnan (Haji) was the first head of Taliban in Kerala," the BJP leader alleged.

While a section in Kerala hail Haji as a leader who laid down his life for the nation fighting British colonialism, Hindu right wing groups claim he was a leader of fanatics who targeted Hindus in Eranadu and Valluvanadu taluks in south Malabar in the "Malabar riot."

Amid a reported move by state Tourism Minister Mohammed Riyas to include the historic sites in Malappuram district that witnessed the Malabar Mappila Rebellion of 1921 in the state's tourism map, Abdullakutty said the Minister should read the book on freedom struggle penned by EMS and pointed out that the Communist leader has clearly noted that the Malabar rebellion had deviated from its path to become a brutal Muslim riot in that area.

"EMS and his family were victims of that riot. Comrade EMS's family had to flee from the Elamkulam Mana (the famous ancestral home of EMS in Perinthalmanna Taluk) to Palakkad to save themselves from the rioters," Abdullakutty alleged.

Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP K Muraleedharan said the Malabar rebellion was part of the Khilafat movement against British colonialists and accused the BJP leaders of portraying its leader Kunhahammad Haji as communal.

"The Malabar rebellion was part of Khilafat movement and against British rule in India. Although sometimes it had deviated from its path, one cannot blame its good intention," the Congress leader said and alleged that those who ditched the freedom movement were now trying to give a communal colour to the Malabar rebellion.

"The BJP is trying to implement their communal agenda. They are constantly trying to write a new history (on freedom struggle). They are doing it by implementing the divide and rule policy of the Britishers. As part of implementing their agenda, they are portraying Variyankunnath Kuhahammed Haji as a communalist," Muraleedharan said, hitting back at Abdullakutty.

Ram Madhav, while speaking at an event in Kozhikode on August 19 in remembrance of victims of the violence during the 1921 rebellion in Kerala, had alleged that as the brutalities and violence committed back then was not known to everyone, the Left government was trying to whitewash or conceal what happened and celebrating it as a communist revolution against the British and the bourgeois by encouraging production of films which showcase the rebellion's leaders as "heroes."

Meanwhile, addressing a programme on the Malabar rebellion, organised by state Library Council at Tirurangadi in Malappuram district on August 20, Kerala Assembly Speaker M B Rajesh had equated Haji with Bhagat Singh and claimed that he was a secular leader who refused to tender an apology to the British and chose martyrdom over deportation to Mecca.

"When Haji was captured by the British military, he was brutally tortured. They also made an offer to him. If he tenders an apology he would be deported to Mecca, the holy place of Muslims. Haji said I love Mecca but I prefer to die on my soil. He chose martyrdom," Rajesh had said.

Rajesh claimed that Haji had also asked the British military not to cover his eyes while being executed by their firing squad.

"I think his (Haj's) standing (in history) is equal to that of Bhagat Singh," the Speaker said while narrating the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, who was executed by the British in 1931.

Rajesh said that Singh, while being jailed, had sent a letter to the then Governor of Punjab demanding that he be executed by a firing squad instead of being hanged.

"When we read (the story of martyrdom of) Kuhahammed Haji, we remember (martyrdom of) Bhagat Singh", Rajesh had said.

Left historians in the state have argued that the Malabar rebellion should be seen as a peasant struggle against the Hindu feudal landlords in the region.

But the matter is still being debated in Kerala society on the nature of rebellion– whether it is an anti-colonial movement that took a communal turn or merely an action by religious fanatics.


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