Moplah Rebellion_00.1
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Moplah Rebellion

 

Relevance

  • GS 1: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Context

  • Recently, former BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said that the Moplah rebellion of 1921 was one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India.
  • Also, August 20, marked the centenary of the Malabar rebellion, which is also known as the Moplah riots.

 

History of Moplah

  • The name Moplah is the anglicized version of Mapillah, which means son-in-law.
  • It is given to Malayali-speaking Muslims who resided in the Malabar Coast of northern Kerala.
  • By 1921, the Moplahs formed the fastest growing community in Malabar. Its population comprises 32% of the total Malabar population, and were more concentrated in South Malabar.
  • When Portuguese traders arrived in 16th century, on the Malabar coast, they noted that Moplahs are the mercantile community and are concentrated in urban centres.
  • They are largely segregated from the local Hindu population.
  • The rise of Portuguese, however, forced Moplahs to move inland for new economic opportunities.
  • This shifting led to a clash of religious identities both with the local Hindu population and the Portuguese.

 

Moplah Rebellion_50.1

 

The Rebellion

  • The rebellion started as a resistance against both the British colonial rule in Malabar region and the landlords who were mainly Hindus.
  • Muslim religious leaders started giving fiery speeches that emboldened the anti-British sentiments, The speech was then followed by several acts of violence and a series of persecutions were committed both against the British and the Hindu landlords.
  • There is, however, no consensus about the nature of the rebellion. While some historians believe it to be a case of religious fanaticism, other historians names it an instance of struggle against British authority. There are also some historians who believes it to be a peasant revolt against unfair landlord practices.
  • The rebellion might have started against the British oppression, it turned out to be a communal revolt.

 

United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress

 

Reasons

  • Non-Cooperation Movement & Khilafat Movement gave the last-time trigger to the discontented Muslims.
    • The anti-British sentiment fuelled by these agitations largely boosted the Muslim peasantry.
  • New Tenancy Laws: After the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, Malabar came under British occupancy as a part of the Madras Presidency.
    • The British had introduced new tenancy laws that was in favour of the landlords and instituted a more exploitative system for peasants than before.
    • These laws deprived the peasants of all guaranteed rights to the land, their share got reduced and they were left landless.

 

Support

  • Initially, the movement was supported by Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders, however, they started distancing from it, after it became violent.

 

How did it end?

  • By the end of 1921, the rebellion was crushed by the Malabar Special Force of the British government.

 

Wagon Tragedy

  • In November 1921, around 70 Moplah prisoners died with suffocation, when they were being transported in a closed freight wagon to the Central Prison in Podanur. This event is called the Wagon Tragedy.

 

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