Malabar rebellion leaders’ exclusion from ICHR book triggers controversy

Panel recommends removal of 387 names including those of Variankunnath, Ali Musaliar

Published: 24th August 2021 06:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2021 06:27 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: The recommendation to remove the names of the people associated with the Malabar Rebellion of 1921 from the dictionary of martyrs of the independence struggle has triggered a controversy with a section alleging political motive behind the move.The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has published the ‘Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle’ in 2015, which has the names of the leaders of the rebellion including Variankunnath Kunhammad Haji and Ali Musaliar appeared.

The ICHR formed a sub-committee after some raised objections to including the names. The three-member committee submitted the report recommending the removal of 387 names from the dictionary, saying that the rebellion was not a part of the freedom struggle.“There is no basis for treating the revolt as part of the freedom struggle. The flag the rioters carried was the flag of the Khilafat movement,” said Prof C I Isaac, member of the ICHR who was also a member of the sub-committee. It was said the people who participated in the rebellion tried to implement Sharia law and established Khilafat rule in Malappuram for a brief period.

“The names found a place in the dictionary as it was pushed by some vested interests. The sub-committee’s report is with the ICHR and a no final decision has been taken yet,” Prof Isaac said. He added that there is also a line of thinking in the ICHR that incidents such as Punnapra-Wayalar and Kayyur struggles also should be removed from the book.

However, former ICHR chairman Prof M G S Narayanan said the move is politically motivated. He told media that such moves will affect the credibility of the organisation badly.MGS added independence was not the sole intention of the rebellion. There are vested interests behind all different interpretations of the incident, he said.

Historian Hussein Randathani said the move is the latest example of the Sangh Parivar’s intolerance towards anything related to the freedom struggle. “They don’t have any role in the independence struggle and none of their leaders appear in any document,” he said. Randathani added that it would be better not to publish the book if the names are deleted. “A total of 500 names would be removed if they decide to omit Punnapra-Wayalar and Kayyur struggle. Then, the dictionary would look like a pamphlet,” he said. A number of organisations including the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Fraternity Movement have condemned the move.

Meanwhile, BJP national vice-president A P Abdulla Kutty said Variankunnath was the first leader of the Taliban. Reacting to Speaker M B Rajesh’s statement that the rebel leader can be equated with Bhagat Singh, he said it will be a cruelty to history to do such whitewashing. The BJP leader said that even E M S Namboodirippad and his family had to bear the brunt of the rebellion and they were forced to leave Malappuram. 

IUML leaders P K Kunhalikutty and Panakkad Syed Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal also blasted the Central Government for removing the names from the book. “They can remove freedom fighters from books but not from the minds of people,” Kunhalikutty said. He added that such moves are not new to the Sangh Parivar. “They are changing the names of the cities in various parts of the country and are even targeting Taj Mahal,” he said.Thangal said the martyrs have laid down their lives for the country and we should not show them ingratitude.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp