Why Kerala’s 1921 Malabar Rebellion is still being debated

Ram Madhav has claimed that the 1921 Malabar Rebellion was one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India | Photo: PTI

Ram Madhav, the former general secretary of the BJP, claimed on Thursday that the 1921 Moplah Rebellion in Kerala was one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India, and accused the Left government in the state of celebrating it as a communist revolution.

Madhav said the national leadership was aware of the “correct history” and therefore, it will not give any space to such Talibani or separatist forces to create violence or divide people in the country.

He was speaking at an event in Kozhikode in remembrance of the victims of the violence.

Madhav said that the world over, everyone’s attention was focused on Taliban’s actions in Afghanistan, and they were being reminded, by the media, about the atrocities committed by the group in the past.

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However, for India it was “not a new story” as this Taliban mindset first manifested here in the form of the Moplah Rebellion, he alleged.

The Malabar Rebellion

August 20 marks the centenary of the rebellion – an uprising of Muslim tenants against British rulers and local Hindu landlords.

The months-long uprising was marked by many bouts of bloodshed. According to some accounts, more than 10,000 people were killed during the period.

The rebellion is considered one of the first nationalist uprisings in southern India. In fact, in 1971, the then Kerala government included the participants in the category of freedom fighters.

The rebellion was largely confined to regions that are now under Malappuram district in north Kerala.

The Sangh Parivar, however, has dubbed the rebellion the first “jihadi massacre of Hindus” in Kerala. According to the Sangh, history was distorted, and the uprising, which began as part of the Khilafat Movement, ended up with the massive killings of Hindus. The BJP also blamed the Congress for making the Khilafat Movement a part of the freedom struggle in Malabar, which at the time was part of the Madras Presidency under the British regime.

The BJP, as part of its agenda to mobilise Hindu vote banks, says calling the “unprovoked massacre of Hindus as part of the Independence struggle is an insult to history as well as the majority community in Kerala”. 

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