Agrarian revolts of Mappilas - Dr. K.K.N. Kurup

Not only in the Malabar revolt but also in the riots preceded in Eranadu we can see a religious aura. But only because of that we cannot say they were not agrarian revolts. In China Muslims had revolted against rulers to emancipate themselves from the miseries of agrarian economy. Muslims revolted against the Manchu Rule in Yanam province in 1853-73 period and in the north west China from 1863-73. The Social background was the ill effects of agrarian economy

Many fundamental characteristics of the Indian armed struggle against imperialism in 1857 and the Malabar revolts were of some nature. Scholars Komavov and Audipov focused the agrarian factors of the struggle. Revenue offices were destroyed in Malabar revolts. The rebels wanted to destroy documents of land deeds which were lending them for many years. The mappila rebels put up their arms against the land lords of Nilambur Kovilakam and Poomulli Mana not because they were Hindus but they were exploiters and supporters of imperialism.

As for as Mappilas were concerned, in 1921 the Khilafat committee were functioning as their Organisation. When military rule started the philosophy of non-violence was replaced by Islamic philosophy which gave them inspiration to revolt and rebel. Sri. E. Moidu Moulavi quotes the words of Ali Musaliars conversation with Abdul Rahiman and K.P. Kesava Menon- “If a handful of soil can only be put against violence, it should be done. That is the dictum of Islam.(The autobiography of Moulavi)

Muslims, Hajis and Thangals who gave leadership to the revolt were bended by this philosophy than Gandhian philosophy of non-violence. The flag used by Khilafat Volunteers were white flag with the symbol of half moon on it. After the first world war many soldiers were dismissed and sent back without any pension or rehabilitation. They also participated in the struggle against imperialism.

The Congress Committee convened in Allehabad rejected this revolt by saying that there is no relation between and the non co-operative movement and Khilafat. Historians like R.C. Majumdar evaluated it as communal riots. It was Mr. Hitchcok who truly suppressed the revolt become the appointee of the government to write the history of Malabar revolt.

Revolting muslims killed 500 to 600 people and destroyed temples. According to Mr. Hitchcok the important criminal offences from August 1921 to February 22nd were 469 murders, 5941 deecoities and 352 torturing incidents. It included the murders of Thaliyil Unniman kutty, the village officer who helped the British, Hydrose constable, Inspector Chekkutty, Pediatrician Hydrose Haji, a supporter of British, a lady muslim prostitute and those whoever killed for giving tender coconut and milk to the soldiers. It also includes the murder of landlord Narayan Nair by his tenant and the European Estate owner Eten who was killed for his brutal atrocities against the laborers. The blacksmith who refused to make the weapons were also killed. Decocting included the looting of Namboodiri Bank at Mancheri, Nilambur Kovilakam and its treasury, the house of Chalilakath Ibrahim kutty and the press owner who printed notices against the Khilafat. The mortgaged ornaments taken away from the Naboodiri Bank were returned back to their real owners without accepting money. From the money looted from Nilambur Kovilakam a share was given to Brahmins pregnant wife for her delivery expenditure. The reaping of Nilambur Kovilakam’s agriculture fields to feed the Khilafat Volunteers is also included in the dacoits. In the same manner it also includes the burning of the home of Chaliks and Thenkeri who caught the mappila rebels and handed over them to the British imperialists. Thus an impartial analysis of the revolt gives as a picture where the offences committed by the mappilas were more of economic in nature than communal.


On 26th August, in Pookkottur the British army and the Muslim rebels clashed in a big array. 300 to 400 rebels including vadakke Veettil Muhammed laid their lives. On October 20th a group of rebels attacked the Gurkha Regiment near Pookkottur. 46 rebels were killed in that encounter. Similarly 246 at Melmuri.

According to a statistics in 1932, 60,000 cases were registered against people for participating in the Malabar rebellion. 38 were shot dead, 308 were hanged. About 39,348 were imprisoned and 1277 were sent into exile to Andaman Nicobar Islands. The life of the muslims in Andaman Nicobar is yet another story of a living hell where they were subjected to reverse imperialist exploitation.

The great achievement of this rebellion was that in the later years it gave inspiration and enhancement to the organized agrarian and natural movements. The Vanguards of the organized agrarian struggles like Keraleeyam records that they got inspiration from Warriam Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji and others of Ernad to lead the agrarian movement.

(from a study published by the 60th annual celebration committee of Malabar revolt held at Thirurangadi in 1981)

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