Congress, CPI(M) attack Centre over Malabar rebellion row

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Thiruvananthapuram: The CPI(M) and Congress on Tuesday condemned the alleged move by the Central government to “erase” the names of people who participated in the “Malabar Rebellion” from a book on martyrs of the country’s freedom struggle, arguing that the “movement” in 1921 was a part of India’s freedom struggle.

Describing “Malabar Rebellion” as the most organised agitation against the exploitation by feudal landlords, acting secretary of ruling CPI(M) in Kerala, A Vijayaraghavan, said even if the Centre attempts to erase its name, it will not cease to become a part of India’s history.

Congress state chief K Sudhakaran said “the Malabar Revolution” was a shining movement against the anti-imperialist forces and alleged that only the Sangh Parivar forces can communalise such a freedom struggle.

Their separate statements came amid a raging debate in Kerala over whether the Malabar Rebellion also called as Moplah Rebellion was a revolt against the British or a communal riot.

They also referred to reports in a section of media that a three-member panel of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has sought removal of its 387 “martyrs”, including the leaders of rebellion like Ali Musliyar and Variyamkunnath Kunjahamed Haji from a book on martyrs of the country’s freedom struggle.

The ICHR has not officially reacted to the media reports.

The BJP and the RSS have described the Malabar rebellion, also known as the Moplah (Muslim) riots of 1921, as one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India, strongly opposing the move by the Left and Congress to treat it as part of India’s freedom struggle.

“Those who reject the Malabar rebellion have a pro-British mentality,” CPI(M) leader Vijayaraghavan told reporters in Malappuram.

He said legendary Communist leader A K Gopalan had compared the “Malabar Rebellion” to the Paris Commune and was arrested by British police for making such a comparison.

“The British tried to portray the struggle as a communal riot. The RSS is trying to move forward in that way. The Malabar Rebellion is a part of India’s freedom struggle. The anti-British sentiment in the rebellion was undeniable”, Vijayaraghavan said.

“Even if the Central Government attempts to erase its name, the Malabar Rebellion will not cease to become a part of our history. The Malabar struggle is obviously annoying to those who are trying to communalise our history. The struggle was fundamentally anti-feudal and anti-imperialist”, he said and added that this fact was pointed out by all Indian and foreign historians who studied the Malabar Rebellion in depth.

“They all put anti-British sentiment first, as its characteristics. This is explained in a resolution passed by Communist Party in 1946, titled ‘1921- Call and Warning'”, the CPI(M) leader said.

Vijayaraghavan said it was the British who gave legal protection to landlordism and the “Malabar Rebellion” was the most organised agitation against the exploitation by feudal landlords.

“It was noteworthy that the issues raised by the Malabar Rebellion were later raised as part of the national movement”, Vijayaraghavan claimed.

In a statement, PCC Chief Sudhakaran described as despicable and fraudulent, the reported move by the ICHR to remove 387 participants in the Malabar Revolution, including Haji and Musaliar, from the list of martyrs of the freedom struggle.

He alleged that the ICHR’s move was to protect the political interests of the BJP. He also accused the BJP of trying to portray “the brave and anti-imperialist fighter Kunjahammed Haji as an anti-Hindu communalist and a great revolutionary movement as a “communal riot.”

The Congress leader said the Malabar agitation of 1921 was part of the Khilafat movement, which was launched at the call of Mahatma Gandhi to oust British colonial forces from the soil of India.

Meanwhile, Yuva Morcha activists on Tuesday took out a protest march to the residence of Kerala Assembly Speaker M B Rajesh for allegedly equating Haji with Bhagat Singh.

They alleged that the Speaker showed disrespect to Bhagat Singh.

Police stopped the activists outside his residence.

Addressing a programme on the Malabar rebellion, organised by the state Library Council at Tirurangadi in Malappuram district on August 20, the Speaker had claimed that Haji was a secular leader who refused to tender an apology to the British and chose martyrdom over deportation to Mecca.

“I think his (Haj’s) standing (in history) is equal to that of Bhagat Singh,” the Speaker had said while narrating the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, who was executed by the British in 1931.

Hitting back at his critics, Rajesh on Tuesday alleged that Bhagat Singh was ignored by the BJP and Sangh Parivar in the process of promoting Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s role in the country’s freedom struggle.

Rajesh said he does not intend to listen to allegations of “members of Savarkar fans club” who ignored Bhagat Singh.

While a section in Kerala hail Haji as a leader who laid down his life for the nation fighting British colonialism, Hindu right wing groups claim he was a leader of fanatics who targeted Hindus in Eranadu and Valluvanadu taluks in south Malabar in the “Moplah riot.

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