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Just say Kerala and one imagines pensive lagoons, snake boat races, caparisoned elephants, coconut groves, lush green paddy fields and high literacy. The birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, the first and foremost Jagadguru of Sanatan Dharm, is a must have destination for devout Hindus. Who would imagine even in their wildest dreams that the Moplahs of Kerala, pictured as ‘poor Muslims’ drying the coconut to make copra, was the community responsible for a massacre of Hindus in 1921.
The genocide is usually presented in the guise of a peasant rebellion against the British who ruled India at the time. The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) organized an event in memory of 100 years of the Moplah Atrocity, highlighting the importance of remembering and understanding the pogrom. It showcased a pattern of violence against Hindu women that continues to this day. Unfortunately, Hindus and Indians in general, are unaware of the ghastly scale of the violence, inflicted on our community by the Moplahs.
Exactly one hundred years ago, an Islamic State (Khilafat) was established in the Malabar province of Kerala which lasted a few months, until the uprising was quelled. Soon after, there were concerted attempts to suppress and whitewash these atrocities from history and to rebrand the players as ‘freedom fighters. However, the grim memories continue to haunt the families that have been ruined for generations-and we heard from the descendants of one of them during the CoHNA event itself.
The good news is that after a lapse of 100 years, in August 2021 the Government of India announced the removal of this murderous gang from the list of freedom fighters, recognizing the injustice that was inflicted on Hindu men, women and children alike.
Today there are only rough estimates of the dead and the wells in Tirurangadi and nearby regions stand there as a mute testimony of where the dead and dying were dumped into. The sounds of the half dead wailing for help still rings in the ears of the impacted Hindu families. Some of these wells have already vanished, in a systematic attempt to erase the memories of this brutal genocide from history.
There were no efforts made to acknowledge the brutalities inflicted on Hindus in the region, no attempt to revive the dozens of Hindu temples destroyed and desecrated, and no attempt made to return the land grabbed by force from the local Hindus back to them, not even a single memorial exists in these locations.
At that time, many social and political leaders such as Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Annie Besant and the Rani of Nilambur called out the gory scale of the atrocity and pleaded for help to stop the insanity of these planned Hindu killings. Their accounts speak to us across the years, highlighting the horror that befell the innocent victims.
In his book “B.R. Ambedkar on the Mappila Lahala 1921” Dr. Ambedkar, the renowned freedom fighter and main author of the Constitution of India had stated “But what baffled most was the treatment accorded by the Moplahs to the Hindus of Malabar. The Hindus were visited by a dire fate at the hands of the Moplahs. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women such as ripping open pregnant women, pillage, arson and destruction – in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism, were perpetrated freely by the Moplahs upon the Hindus”.
The sole goal – to intimidate Hindus to accept Sharia Law and to get Khilafat established in the Malabar region of Kerala. Colonial troops eventually killed some of the key perpetrators and put an end to the blood bath.
At CoHNA, we believe in being the flag bearers of a better future with knowledge of the past. Crimes against religious minorities in the Indian subcontinent and daily reports of violence against the shrinking Hindu community, crimes against women, underage girls and temples make it very important for us to not only remember and discuss these, but also actively participate to strengthen our Hindu community to prevent painful history from repeating to our future generations.
In commemoration of this event, Sudha Jagannathan, a CoHNA activist, held a discussion with eminent social activists and survivors to commemorate the event. Rani Sajitha, AMU alumni, history student who researched this event is also the descendant of a survivor from Eranad area of Kerala where this happened. Rani said “my widowed grandmother had to leave everything behind to flee the area to survive, with two young kids, relocate to another part of the state and start working as a laborer to raise her children all alone. Women were raped in front of their families, forcefully converted and taken to multiple households for unspeakable crimes.”
A renowned Kerala activist, Anjali Gorge of Shaktitva foundation stated there are still people supporting the marauders who killed the Hindus of Malabar, which shows how important it is to remember our legacy and educate the public on the severe atrocities related to this event. She explained “the evolution of Jonakas aka Arabian traders, to “Moplah”, which means son-in-law, after they married the Hindu women of Malabar. Eventually they began taking control of the region leading to forced conversion, intimidation and killing of those who refused to accept their diktats along with a push to establish Sharia Law/Khilafat,”.
Dr Vishwanath, who leads the Hindu Seva Kendram initiative of grass roots level support for Hindu families, joined the discussion with CoHNA. He said “Hindus are facing an existential crisis in Kerala, have been decimated to minority over the years and a critical social revival is needed in multiple fronts to save Hinduism from yet another Mappila Atrocity event”. He added, “we as a society need to actively participate in the wellbeing of our fellow Hindus to uplift those that need a helping hand and protect each other.”
We all must stand together with the Hindu community of Kerala, commemorating these painful historic facts. CoHNA takes pride in bringing about lasting social changes for the betterment of our Hindu community.
- Gandhi and Anarchy: Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair
- Mappila Lahala 2021 Book by Sri. C. Gopalan Nair/ Republished by Shri Ramachandran
- “Duravasta” poem written by Mahakavi Kumaran Asan’s .
- Letter sent by Rani of Nilambur to Countess of Reading: https://www.dharmadispatch.in/history/hindu-voices-from-the-malabar-graveyard-the-rani-of-nilambur-records-the-misery-of-the-malabar-hindu-women
- Gandhi & Anarchy, by Sri. C. Sankaran Nair, 1922
- Annie Besant on the Mappila Lahala 1921, wrote in The Future of Indian Politics (Theosophical Publishing House,1922, p. 252)
- B.R. Ambedkar on the Mappila Lahala 1921, Pakistan or The Partition of India’ (Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Volume 8, P.163)
- Will Durant written Oriental Heritage
- The Hindu news article: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/387-moplah-martyrs-to-be-removed-from-dictionary/article36044808.ece
CoHNA is a grassroots level advocacy organization dedicated to improving the understanding of Hinduism in North America by working on matters related to the Hindu community and by educating the public about Hindu heritage and tradition. For more information, please visit CoHNA webpage or follow us on Twitter at or Facebook.