KOZHIKODE: Ramees Muhammad O, who has been researching on the life of 1921 Malabar Rebellion leader Variamkunnath Kunjahammad Haji, has claimed to have accessed rare photos and details that offer a better understanding of Haji.
“The struggle of the Mappilas was widely reported in the international media as it was an unparalleled movement in many respects,” said Ramees, who first read about Haji and the parallel government he established in Malabar in a British publication while he was in England as part of his job.
“That was 10 years ago, and the details given in the publication kindled my curiosity. I decided to delve deep into the topic after I returned to my native place in Tirur. Later, we formed a research team with the help of people in different parts of the world. Curiosity thus gave way to serious study on the topic,” Ramees said.
He said they received Haji’s photo from a French publication. “There are some other photos of the British from the war front, which are never seen in any other book on the rebellion,” he said. He came across a letter Haji had written to the people of America.
“The letter he wrote in an Indian newspaper is well-known now. Not satisfied with the explanation he offered in the letter, Variamkunnan decided to write another one to an NGO in the US, which was published in an American daily. To our surprise, we came across a series of articles on the rebellion published in the French edition of an American newspaper. It was written after spending time with the British forces deployed in Malabar at the time of the rebellion,” Ramees said.
The series was written from the British perspective but the articles clearly show that Haji posed a serious challenge to the mighty British government, he said.
The initial idea was to do a movie on the life of the rebel leader, the researcher said. Ramees wrote the screenplay for the film project undertaken by the Prithviraj-Ashique Abu duo. After they withdrew, another company is going ahead with the project on a vast canvas. Ramees said the photograph, which is circulated as that of Haji, is not the real one.
“We got the real photo from a French publication that was printed in 1922. The idea of a book on the leader dawned on me three years ago. That particular photograph will be the cover page of the upcoming biography of Variamkunnan,” he said. The book ‘Sultan Variamkunnan’ -- brought out by TwoHorn publications -- will be released by Haji’s granddaughter on October 29 at Malappuram.