KOTTAYAM: History completed one hundred years. This may be the most suitable one line when a century has been completed after the martyrdom of Variankunnath Kunjahammed Haji, a Muslim leader who led a stellar uprising against the British rule in Malabar and later formed a parallel government there during the early decades of the 20th century. It was on January 21, 1922 that the valiant warrior was shot dead by the British.
With the martyrdom of Variyankunnath Haji completing a century, KM Jafar, aka Jafar Erattupetta, a member of the Chakkiparamban family to which Haji belonged, remembers the martyr and shares the miseries faced by the family during and after the Malabar Rebellion.
Jafar is the fourth-generation descendant of Chakkiparamban Moideenkutty Haji, father of Variyankunnath Haji. "Chakkiparamban family had always been closely associated with the fight against the British Raj in Malabar. During 1885-1890 when Variamkunnan was young, Moideenkutty Haji had to flee Malabar following a rebellion against the British and he settled down at Erattupetta as an Arabic teacher in a madrasa," Jafar Said.
Later, Moideenkutty Haji married Ummuhani Umma from Muttathuparambil Mather family in Erattupetta and the couple had a son named Muhiyudheen Kutty Haji. Jafar is the grandson of Muhiyudheen Kutty Haji.
According to Jafar, British spies arrived in Erattupetta later and took Moideenkutty Haji into custody.
"After a trial in Mannarkkad, he was deported to the Andaman Islands," Jafar said.
"After the exile of Moideenkutty Haji, Variankunnan took the mantle of the revolt and soon emerged as an invincible warrior. British leaders were forced to deploy one-third of their soldiers in India to Malabar to fight against Variankunnan. Finally, the British stoked communal sentiments to conquer Haji," he said.
According to Jafar, Variyankunnath Haji was a true patriotic and secular leader, who was mistaken by some people following the dirty strategy adopted by the British to defeat him.
"The British failed to defeat Haji as the Hindu-Muslim bond was solid in Malabar at that time. Haji had the support of the then tall Hindu leaders such as Poonthanam Raman Namboothiri, Brahmadattan Namboothiri and Pandiath Narayanan Nambeesan," he said.
"Realising that Variankunnan could not be defeated through an open war, the British, later, formed a special task force named M-5 to create hatred between Hindu and Muslim communities. A section in the force barged into Hindu families in the Khilafat workers' uniform and attacked them in the name of Variankunnan, while another group attacked Muslim families in the name of Hindus. The British succeeded in creating chinks in the armour and entered Eranadu," Jafar said.
Jafar, who authored a few books like '1921 Malabar Kalapavum Chakkipparamban Kudumbavum' (Malabar Rebellion and Chakkiparamban Family), had also carried out extensive research to trace the roots of his family. "As the members of Chakkiparamban family had been involved actively in the fight against the British, the family members were targeted brutally.
As many as 200 family members were shot dead by the British, as per the available statistics. Following this, the family members were scattered and settled in various areas without disclosing their family name or history. It was after decades-long efforts that the Chakkiparamban family members were reunited. Later, we formed the Chakkiparamban family association," he said.
The association, comprising about 12,000 members, has been organising a reunion every year since 2014.
Jafar also shared a concern that Chakkiparamban family's contributions didn't get due recognition in the history of Indian freedom struggle.
"Till a few decades ago, Chakkiparamban family was known as a family of prisoners. Having given significant contributions to preventing the British in Malabar, the family deserves a decent place in the history of Indian freedom struggle," he said.
Though a grant function was scheduled in Erattupetta on January 26 to commemorate Variyankunnath Kunhammed Haji on his 100th death anniversary, the programme has been postponed taking into account the escalation of Covid positive cases and restrictions.