The Moppalah riots of 1921 is one of the most savage chapters of Islamic jihad against a peaceful Hindu population in India. More than 10,000 Hindus were massacred, thousands of Hindu women and children raped, sodomised and killed, thousands forcefully converted. Hundreds of thousands dislocated, thousands had lost their homes and livelihood. The aftermath of the riots pushed the Hindu population into abject penury and hopelessness as the struggle for India’s freedom gained momentum and both Gandhi and the Congress forgot about the carnage that they had helped ignite.
To this day no compensation has been given to any of the victims of this horrific ethnic cleansing. But both the Congress and the Communists have vied with each other to provide ‘freedom fighter pensions’ to the rioters who caused untold suffering and destruction of entire Hindu families and communities.
When M K Gandhi decided to tie in India’s freedom struggle with the Khilafat Movement of the Indian Muslim League, there was a huge protest amongst many of the other Congress leaders, including Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
The Khilafat Movement was an Islamic religious call by the then leader of Muslim world, the Caliph of Turkey. He gave this call to Muslims all over the world to reinstate him back on his throne after he was booted out by the British in 1920. The reason he lost his throne was the genocide of Christians in Armenia. The Caliph had sent his murderous hordes to Armenia on an ethnic cleansing mission to clear all kaffirs from the land and establish a purely Muslim country.
More than 1.5 million Armenian Christians were brutally murdered. The rape and crucifixion of thousands of Christian women still haunt their descendants to this day. For Gandhi, to tie such an adharmic movement to our dharmic quest for freedom from foreign rule speaks volumes of how ignorant Gandhi was about history and international politics. This abnormal and insidious tie up forever changed the character of the Indian National Congress.
Though Congress leaders such as K Madhavan Nair, K P Keshava Menon and many others had pleaded with Gandhi not to tie up with the Shaukat Ali brothers who were leading this movement. Gandhi ignored all of them and even travelled up to Eranad in Kerala along with these brothers to speak at huge rallies about how Swaraj was to be achieved.
The relationship between the Hindus and Muslims in the Malabar region was not cordial. Hyder Ali and Tipu’s jihad from Mysore into Malabar had considerably weakened the Hindu Rajahs and created social upheaval in what was a largely peaceful society. Tipu’s orgy of rape, sodomy, enslavement, loot and forceful conversions disrupted the social equation and dislocated hundreds of thousands of people.
The Muslims were mostly illiterate and barbaric, prone to violence without any reason. Their fanatical hatred for anyone who was not Hindu and their belief that killing a kaffir would gain them eternal salvation made them relentless in their persecution of Hindus.
In 1852, T L Strange, a former Judge of the Sardar Adalut, reported that the condition of the Hindus was most lamentable. He feared so much for the Hinds that he suggested the expulsion of Moppalahs from Malabar. He says that though the British had built special schools for the Moppalahs, built roads and done everything that a civilised Government can do the Moppalah remains ignorant and bigoted. (Page 122, Gopala Krishnan Nair)
After Tipu’s carnage through Malabar and most of Kerala, to 1919 there were a series of outbreaks in which Moppalahs would gather at their places of worship…listen to their religious leaders and then go off on a frenzy of attacks against Hindus. These outbreaks would stop after a few days or when the British shot down the rioters. Malabar would then return to an uneasy calm until the Moppalahs decided to go on one of their savage and murderous marches again.
Thus by 1921, the Hindu community was largely weakened and impoverished. There was no central leadership since after Hyder Ali and Tipu’s jihad most of the rajahs had either been killed or had been dislocated, and impoverished. The few royal families that did exist were encumbered by the British in many ways.
It is into such quagmire that Gandhi waltzes in with his Swaraj whored out to khilafat movement Freedom struggle. The Hindus did not trust the Muslims but on Gandhi’s insistence and due to the insistent persuading of the Congress leaders of the time in Malabar, they reluctantly accepted the khilafat movement as part of the freedom movement.
Large amount of money was collected from the hapless Hindus to establish khilafat cells across Malabar and soon there were a 100 khilafat cells. All these cells were manned by Muslims. What the need was for khilafat cells when there were enough of Congress cells across the length and breadth of the country was any one’s guess and why the much persecuted Hindu had to donate his meagre income and his hard work to reinstate a Caliph in Turkey whilst he was fighting for his own freedom in his own land was a question many asked.
The Congress assured them that once the Muslims who until then had not taken part in a single freedom struggle against the British would now fight along with the Hindus and that this ‘joint struggle’ would make the British quit India. On the surface, the long-suffering Hindus accepted this but it is recorded history that most did not believe in it. Their historical acquiescence and unquestioned loyalty to favoured leaders, in this case Gandhi, made them agree to a largely unequal partnership.
However, before the Khilafat movement could gain much steam, the Turks who really didn’t give two hoots to what the Moppalah or Indian Muslim was all about, phased out the Caliph and monarchy and brought in democracy. This created consternation in the minds of the Moppalah who by now had begun to believe in making India an Islamic country through the Khilafat movement.
It was only the Hindus who thought of Swaraj as freedom from the British, the Moppalah was working with the Congress to gain freedom not only from the British but also from the Hindus. This was what was being preached to them by their many religious leaders who went by the Thangal, Musaliyar, Haji titles. The sudden decimation of their ultimate dream of Ghazwa-e-Hind made the Moppalah more volatile than ever.
Into this hazardous situation, Congress leaders again tried to arrange for functions where they and the khilafat movement leaders speak to the mostly Muslim populace. The Congress leaders, who were by now tied in with the khilafat movement sought to pacify the angry Moppalahs. But by now, most of the Hindus had left the movement unable to take the fanaticism and violent behaviour of the Moppalahs. Many complained that when they took part in the Swaraj/khilafat movement, the Moppalahs tried to convert them by sweet words or force and soon the normal distrust of these people came to fore and the previous lingering rancour once again prevailed amongst the two communities.
This then was the situation in 1921. It was like a tinderbox just waiting for a flint to be lit somewhere.
(To be continued)