Hindu Voices from the Malabar Graveyard: War Song of the Moplahs and the Century-Long Massacres of Hindus
If we thought that the ghastly genocide of the hapless Hindus of Malabar in 1921 at the hands of the Moplah Muslims was a sudden or sporadic occurrence due to the sustained, inflammatory preaching of the bigoted Khilafat gang, we are missing a sense of history. Ever since the Moplah Muslims lost their near-monopolistic clutch on trade and commerce with the Arabs on the Malabar coast to the superior might of the Portuguese, they sought other occupations and spread over different parts of Kerala. They became hired farmhands, labourers, and did other odd jobs working under the accursed infidel Hindus. One major branch of these Moplahs became hired mercenaries or freelance plunderers engaged in attacking well-to-do villages comprising majority of Hindus. The nauseating pattern repeated: large scale looting, arson, kidnapping Hindu women, forced conversions…you know the rest. By the early 19th century, they had become a constant source of scourge and concern even for the British.
In this rapacious and murderous endeavor, the Moplahs were guided, inspired and motivated by a handy song titled The Delights of Paradise. The West Coast Spectator, a weekly from Kozhikode ran an English translation of this “song” 6 July 1922. Here is the full text of the “song.”
The pleasures of Wealth or of family are not equal to an atom of celestial happiness. Our most venerable Prophet has said that those who die in battle can see the houris who will come to witness the fight. There is nothing in this world to compare to the beauty of the houris. The splendour of the sun, of the moon, and of the lightning is darkness compared with the beauty of their hair which hang over their shoulders. Their cheeks, eyes, face, eyebrows, forehead, head are incomparably lovely. Their mouths are like corals of gold, their teeth like seeds of the thali’ flowers. It is not possible for the mind to conceive of the loveliness of their breasts and shoulders. If they spit in the sea, the salt water becomes as sweet as honey, as fragrant as attar. If they were to come down to this earth, and smile, the sun, moon and stars would be eclipsed. Mortals would die if they but heard the music of their voices. When they wear red silk bordered with green lace of seventy, folds, their skins, muscles and bones can be seen through. Such is the splendour of their body. If they clap their hands, the clash of their jewels will be heard at a distance of 50 years of journey. They clap their hands, dance and sing, as they come like the swans to the battlefield. If a human being were to see their beauty, their dance, or their smile, he would die on the spot. Gently they touch the wounds of those who die in battle, they rub away the blood, cure the pain, they kiss and embrace the martyrs, give them to drink the sweet water of heaven and gratify their every wish. A horse caparisoned with precious stones will be brought and a voice will say: — Let my men mount: let them dance with the celestial houris. Then the celestial coverings will be placed on their heads, they will mount the beautiful horse which will dance and leap and take them to heaven, where they will live in unbounded joy.
This is an excerpt from a full “song” composed in the memory of 47 Sayyidakkals (Martyrs belonging to the Sayyid sect) who died fighting against the soldiers of Para Nambi, a Hindu chieftain from Malappuram. The memory of this battle subsequently became an annual festival for these Muslims who celebrated it as the Malappuram Nercha. As Sri Gopalan Nair writes, “every Moplah out on the warpath carries with him whenever possible a copy of the song.”
Which now brings us to some of the major aggressions of the Moplahs against Hindus predating the gruesome climax of 1921, recorded by Sri Gopalan Nair who lists fifty-one incidents of unprovoked assaults against Hindus by the Moplahs. Only the most notable incidents are given below. Emphases added.
- April, 15, 1837. Kalpatta, Ernad. Ali Kutti of Chengara Amsom inflicted severe wounds on one Narayana Moosad and took post in his own shop.
- April, 5, 1839. Pallipuram, Walluvanad. Thorayam Pulakal Athan and another, of Pallipuram Amsom, Walluvanad Taluk killed one Kellil Raman and then set fire to and burnt a Hindu Temple, took post in another temple.
- April 19, 1840. Irimbulli, Ernad. Parathodiyil Ali Kutti severely wounded one Odayath Kunhunni Nayar and another, and set fire to Kidangil temple.
- April 5, 1841, Pallipuram, Walluvanad. Tumba Mannil Kunyunnian and eight others killed one Perumballi Nambudiri and another at Pallipuram, burnt the house of the latter victim, as well as four other houses.
- November 13th, 1841. Kaidotti Padil Moidin Kutti and seven others killed one Tott’asseri Tachu Pannikar and a peon, took post in a Mosque, set the Police at defiance for three days, and were joined by three more fanatics on the morning of the 17th.
- November 17, 1841. Pallipuram, Walluvanad… some Moplahs estimated at 2,000 set at defiance a Police party on guard over the spot where the above criminals have been buried and forcibly carried off the bodies and interred them with honours at a Mosque.
- December 11, 1843, Pandicad. Anavattat Soliman and nine others killed one Karukammana Govind Moosad, the Adhigari of Pandicad, and a servant of his; destroyed two temples and took post in a house.
- December 19, 1843. A peon was found with his hand and his head all but cut off and the perpetrators were Moplah fanatics.
- August 25, 1849. Ernad and Walluvanad. Torangal Unniyan killed one Paditodi Theyunni and with Attan Gurukkal and others killed three persons and took post in the temple at Manjeri : defiled the temple and partly burnt it.
- August 22, 1851, Kulathur, Wallavanad. Komu Menon and his servant were killed by 6 Moplahs who with three others also killed Kadakottil Nambudiri and Komu Menon ‘s brother Raman Menon. Severely wounded Mundangara Ravichan Nair who subsequently died. They set fire to Rama Menon’s and Chengara Variyar’s house. They then proceeded to Kulathur and murdered the old Kulathur Variyar and two servants.
- January 4, 1852. Mattanur, Kottayam. Choriyot Mayan and fourteen others supported by a mob of two hundred Moplahs butchered all the inmates; 18 in number, of Kalattil Kesavan Tangal’s house and extirpated the family, denied the temples, burnt houses and finally fell on January 8th 1852 in a desperate attack on the house of Kalliad Nambiar.
- April-May, 1852. Ernad. Two Cherumas after embracing Muhamadanism returned to their original faith. These Cherumas were then working for Kudilil Kanrni Kutti Nayar who being a peon was transferred from Ernad Taluk to Ponnani and subsequently to Calicut to avert the impending danger to his life. The Cherumas were also transferred to other Taluks as their presence was considered a source of disturbance.
- August 9, 1852. Kurumbranad. Three Moplahs took up a position in the house of a village accountant (Puttur) and had resolved to die as Sabjda (martyr). They wounded a Brahmin and were killed by the Police on the 12th August.
- September 16, 1853, Angadipwam, Walluvanad. Kuaaumal Moidin and Cherukavil Moidin murdered Chengalary Vasudevan Nambudiri.
- September 12, 1855. Calicut. Three Moplahs at Valasseri. Emalu, Puliyakunat Tenu, Cemban Moidin Kutti and Vellattadayyatta Parambil Moidin escaped from their working party of Jail convicts’, at Calicut and proceeded to Walluvanad. They roamed about the country and on 10th September reached Calicut. On 12th they murdered Collector Mr. Conolly at his Bungalow.
- August 1857, Pomnala, Ernad. Poovadan Kunbappa Haji and 7 others were suspected of conspiring to revenge the supposed insult offered to their religion by the relapse of a Nair convert, and to make an attempt to rid the country of the Kaffirs… The conspirators were…taken prisoners and seven of them deported under the Moplah Outrages Act.
- 8th September, 1873, Parol, Walluvanad. Kunhappa Musaliar visited the Velichapad or Oracle of Tuthekil temple, struck him. several blows with a sword and left him for dead. They proceeded to Kolathur and attacked a member of Kolathur Varier’s family and mortally wounded him.
- Sept. 9, 1880, Melattur, Walluvanad. M. Ali deliberately cut the throat of a Cheruma lad who had become a convert to Islam and had reverted. He then wounded a potter on the next day ; he went to the house of one of his intended victims, when a watchman shot Ali in the breast and killed him…7 Moplahs were deported.
- June, 18, 1884. Kannancheri Raman who had previously embraced and subsequently renounced Islam was attacked in a most savage manner by two Moplahs.
- 1st May 1885. A gang of Mappilas, consisting of T. V. Veran Kutti and eleven others broke open the house of a Cheruman called Kutti Kariyanand murdered him, his wife, and four of their children, and set fire to the house and a neighbouring temple. The person had become a convert to Islam many years ago and had reverted to his original religion fourteen years ago. The Moplahs retreated during the night of 2nd May to their own country side, and in the early morning of the third they seized the house of a wealthy Nambudiri Brahmin, landlord of Ponnundam, Ponnani.
- In 1894, a gang of Moplahs in Pandicad started on the war-path They wandered about, defiling and burning temples wherever they could, besides attacking and killing such Nairs and Brahmins as fell in their way. The troops and the Police at last came up with them in a temple, when they sallied out with their usual fury and had all to be shot.
- On 25-2-1896 a gang of twenty Moplahs went out on the war-path from Chembrasseri Amsom and for five days in ever increasing numbers terrorised the country-side ; Hindus were murdered or their ‘ Kudumis ‘ cut off, and they were summarily converted to Islam. Temples were desecrated and burnt, Houses were looted in the search for food, money and arms. Finally on March 1st hard pressed by the pursuit of the troops, the fanatics entered the Manjeri Karanammulpad’s temple, determined to make their last stand in a spot hallowed in their eyes as the scene of the first triumphant act of the tragedy of 1849. Twenty soldiers were guarding the treasury on the hill opposite the temple, and with them shots were exchanged. At 9 A. M., the District Magistrate with the main body of the troops came up in great anxiety for the safety of the treasury-guard, and occupied a hill overlooking the temple from a distance of some 750 yards across a deep valley covered with trees and bushes. The troops opened fire at once, and the fanatics, instead of taking shelter, deliberately courted death offering themselves as a target to the bullets on the open platform of the temple ‘ howling, shouting, waving their arms and firing off their guns.’ Advancing steadily with frequent volleys over the broken ground, the troops came near enough to the Moplah stronghold to call upon the fanatics to surrender. Hoarse cries of defiance were their only answer and pushing on, the soldiers entered the temple almost without opposition. A horrible sight met their eyes. Within the narrow precincts were filled up the bodies of ninety-two Moplahs. Some were still breathing, but the great majority were dead, and at least twenty had their throats cut from ear to ear. They had been murdered by their comrades to prevent their being captured alive. A small gang of seven ‘ Sahids ‘ were still at large, but by March 13th they had all been arrested or shot by the Police and the outbreak was at an end.” (Malabar Gazetteer).
- In February 1919, a gang of fanatics headed by a dismissed Moplah Head-Constable, began to give trouble. Following their usual methods they broke into and denied the temples, killed almost every Brahmin and Nair who fell in their way and finally died in resistance to the Police Force sent out against them. In this one outbreak four Brahmins namely three Nambudiries and one Nambudiri, and two Nairs were put to death by the fanatics.
20 August 1921: The Moplah Genocide of the Malabar Hindus.
To be continued
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