All the graves had more than one body buried and among them one had upto 11 bodies. But I could find no trace of this particular massacre in any of those works," Sameel said. I dug further to get details of the regiment and their expeditions, that was also futile," Sameel explains. From an octogenarian physician Dr Thorappa Muhammed, Sameel got to know that the number of people killed in the massacre was more than he could count. Muhammed told him that the number would go above and challenged him to look at official British documents for more information.
In that book, he has just mentioned that the Dorset Regiment met some rebels near Melmuri and it led to the killing of people on October 25, ," said Sameel. A book by the then police inspector of Malappuram, R H Hitchcock, describes every moment of his life as a British officer in Malappuram. Sameel found Tottenham's book to be the most valuable as the author had added all the official communications, notes, commission reports etc. It was a painful effort," said Sameel. In the early s, an article published in 'Souvenir' as part of the Pookkottur War anniversary had made some efforts to cover the massacre.
Some young enthusiasts and writers had also made videos regarding this massacre and related artefacts still available in the area. The information for these efforts led Sameel to more graves. Unlike the usual six-feet deep Muslim graves, these were only two feet in depth," he said. Family members told me about men, including aged and sick, being forcefully dragged out of their home and shot.
Two girls who were trying to protect their fathers were also shot by the army," Sameel added. Two feet deep grave. Apart from a telegram communication of the officials mentioning the short-engagement between Dorset and rebels in Melmuri after the Mappilas were attacked, there is no other evidence to lead us to the motive behind the massacre. Operations are undertaken against them by Dorsets, Artillery and armoured cars. Enemy met in jungle west of Melmuri opposing our troops there and in the houses, refusing to come out when ordered to surrender and offering continued opposition resulting in rebel casualties," reads the telegram.
Sameel assumes the British unleashed violence in that particular place due to the presence of a big chunk of Ali Musliyar's students and giving shelter to V K Haji when he was in underground. He rules out any connections to the alleged Mappila brutality, including forceful conversion of non-Muslims. Rather, there are mentions of participation of lower caste people in the rebellion," Sameel claims.
But till now nobody came forward claiming as the descendants of 'those people'," says Sameel. Even the leaders in the freedom movement believed this story and ignored the ruthless suppression of the rebellion," he added. In his article, Sameel gives an account of assistance from Thiyya family, lower caste Hindus, to extinguish the fire set on homes of Muslim neighbours by the army. The entire course of the rebellion changed after the massacre as more rebels surrendered. Also, the popular support to the rebellion had also diminished.
Several political events precipitated the rebellion or Jihad but amongst the Moplahs, a rumor spread that British rule had collapsed and a successor to Mohammed had been taken power in Delhi. On 20 August , the first incident in the rebellion took place at Tirurangadi, where the rebellion's initial focus was against the limited British presence in the area. Arsonists took to the street, burning and destroying Government property.
The British District Magistrate of Calicut, with the help of troops attempted to arrest some armed Moplah leaders. The resulting in clashes produced the first deaths and the British officials and Planters and merchants were driven out of the area. The Moplahs then focused their wrath on the Hindus. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, and other outrages followed. Mohammed Haji was proclaimed the Caliph of the Moplah Khilafat and flags of Islamic Caliphate were raised and Khilafat kingdoms declared.
The British regional government in Madras could see that the 'situation was beyond civil control' and requested that the Army should therefore 'now take charge'. They signalled that:. We consider the conditions now correspond to the state of affairs described in Martial Law Manual and that regular measures should be taken as contemplated in that Manual.
We accordingly suggest that Governor General introduces Martial Law by ordinance. Fighting The Moplahs - click for enlargement Along the coast, there is a narrow strip of sandy plain, but inland the country rises to the east in successive steps of low hills, interspersed with paddy flats fringed with coconut groves, until the spurs and deep ravines of the main escarpment are reached on the eastern borders of the District.
Here the jungle and forests become dense and the country difficult; in most parts uninhabited. Annual rainfall is very heavy, particularly in the South-West Monsoon period.
Kerala Muslims And Shifting Notions Of Religion In The Public Sphere - Salah Punathil,
The mountains to the east, which average 5, feet, rise in places to over 8, feet. The ground and the physical conditions made Malabar an exceedingly difficult area for to counter insurgency operations and provided the Moplah rebels with ample cover and hiding places. The climate, very hot and stuffy, was at its worst when the rebellion broke out, and heavy rains, amounting at times to ten inches a day, added to the difficulties and discomforts of the Army.
An undeveloped area, even by Edwardian Indian standards, the roads were mostly little more than tracks for the normal requirements of local people. For instance, bridges could not be relied on to bear the weight of light trucks, let alone armoured cars.
This necessitated careful reconnaissance or reliable intelligence on routes to be taken. Difficulties in planning movements and gaining surprise resulted. The commander of the Madras Military District, General Burnett-Stuart, had under his command a British cavalry regiment, a brigade of Field Artillery, two British battalions, including 2nd Dorsets and seven Indian battalions including a battalion of Pioneers , and a company of the Madras Sappers and Miners.
However, only a small proportion of these units were available, as the after effects of the Great War were still being felt and consequent reorganisation of the Indian Army was underway. In addition, other parts of the Madras District could not be denuded of troops in case the rebellion spread and in any case, the interruptions of railway communications prevented the employment of a large force.
There was also little scope for the use of either cavalry or artillery due to the ground and weather conditions. With the Moplahas, however, being poorly armed, with a small proportion of them armed with small arms, it was assumed that British infantry would suffice.
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Officers in Bangalore - click for enlargement On receipt of the request for support, General Burnett-Stuart immediately ordered 2nd Dorsets to deploy from Baird Barracks, Bangalore to Malabar. They were quickly under way, having been on standby since the previous month, in two trains.
The Dorsets were followed by a cavalry squadron of the Bays and a section of artillery, and together the force was to move to Podanur where it would concentrate, under the command of Colonel Humphreys. A patrol train, sent out and found the line clear as far as Shoranur. Troop trains were pushed on to that point dropping a few detachments to guard key points en route. Arriving in Malabar, the Dorsets received word that an isolated detachment of the Leinsters was in trouble at Malapuram.
The immediate need, however, was to restore railway communication with Calicut, and headquarters were sent on to Kuttipuram, to which point the line had been hastily repaired, to cover the reconstruction. The Dorsets were formed into a column with a troop of the Bays, a section of artillery and some Sappers and Miners, under Colonel Radcliffe. They advanced on Malapuram, thirty miles northward, leaving Kuttipuram early on 27 August.
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Thus, the basic cause of the Moplah agitation was the operation against the Jenmis. There was total insecurity of tenure to the Moplahs and they could be ejected from their land without any appropriate notice. This was unbearable for the Moplahs. More than often the Moplahs were discriminated against the Hindu tenants. This brought the Moplah tenants under one organisation.
This movement developed its roots in Malabar also. The Moplahs took active part in Khilafat movement also. Actually, in practice, the meetings of the Moplahs and the Khilafat could hardly be separated. This displeased the Moplahs and ended up with the agitation of the Moplah peasantry. It was not in a position to take strong military action against the Moplahs. The final break came only when the district magistrate of Eranad taluka, on 20th August, , raided the mosque at Tirurangadi to arrest Ali Musaliar a Khilafat leader and a highly respected priest. The people were quiet and peaceful, but the police opened fire on the unarmed crowd and many were killed.
A clash ensued and government offices were destroyed, records burnt and the treasury looted.
The rebellion soon spread into the Eranad, Vallu- vanad and Ponnani talukas all Moplahs strongholds. The Hindu landlords who were lenient in their relations with the Moplahs were spared by the latter. This gave a communal flavour to the peasant agitation. As a matter of fact, the Malabar people in general lost all their sympathy with the Moplahs.