Malabar Rebellion leaders Variamkunnath Kunhamed Haji, Ali Musaliar and 387 other “Moplah martyrs” will be removed from the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle.
A three-member committee of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), which submitted a review report of the names of “freedom fighters” in the 1921 rebellion in 2016, is said to have sought the removal of Wagon Tragedy victims and Malabar Rebellion leaders from a book on martyrs of India’s freedom struggle.
The book, Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle 1857-1947, was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. The ICHR, which comes under the Ministry of Education, reviewed the entries in the fifth volume of the book, and concluded that names of 387 “Moplah martyrs”, including Ali Musliyar, Variamkunnath Ahmad Haji, and the latter’s two brothers, be removed from the book.
The Malabar rebellion, which is also known as the Moplah riots, began on August 20, 1921 by Muslim tenants against British rulers and local Hindu landlords. Some historical accounts state the uprising led to the loss of around 10,000 lives, including 2,339 rebels.
The incidents took place in various parts of Malappuram district in north Kerala. The then Kerala government had included the participants of the rebellion in the category of freedom fighters.
The Wagon Tragedy took place on November 21, 1921, in which those farmers [Moplah prisoners] who revolted against the Britishers were herded into a windowless wagon without food and water to be transported to the Coimbatore prison. As many as 70 farmers suffocated to death. It was called the ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ of the South. In 1972, the Kerala government called it the Wagon Tragedy.