Malabar rebellion or Moplah riots or Mappila riots. It occurred during August 20, 1921 to 1922 in the Malabar region of Kerala, India. The Muslims in the Malabar region were called “Moplahs”.


The real villains’ are actually Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. How? The land in Malabar region was mostly owned by the Hindus (Jenmi). The Moplahs were mostly tenants of the land who cultivated it and gave a certain percentage of the produce to the Jenmi. In those times, this was mostly the norm all through out India (and even Europe). Then Haider and Tipu attack Malabar (1766-92). Moplahs being Muslims support Haider and Tipu. The Jenmi fled Malabar. Haider and Tipu snatched big chunks of Jenmi’s land and distributed among Moplahs. In the 4th Anglo-Mysore war in 1799, Tipu is defeated, killed and Mysore is annexed by British. The British welcome the Jenmi, return them their land and resettle them in Malabar. This step of British saved Malabar from becoming a Muslim majority area. But this created a solid background for a series of conflicts between Moplahs and Hindus. Through out 19th century there were skirmishes between Moplahs and Hindus (the most prominent one in 1836).

Congress and Gandhiji’s Action:

The Khilafat movement was launched in 1919. Also known as the Indian Muslim movement (1919ā€“24), was a pan-Islamist political protest campaign launched by Muslims of British India led by Shaukat Ali, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Hakim Ajmal Khan, and Abul Kalam Azad to restore the caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate. In 1920 an alliance was made between Khilafat leaders and the Indian National Congress. Gandhiji and the Khilafat leaders promised to work and fight together for the causes of Khilafat and Swaraj. Khilafat leaders travelled to Malabar to garner support, and the Moplahs (Muslims) saw it an opportunity to snatch land from Jenmis and establish a Islamic state in Malabar by slaughtering or converting the Hindus.

Riots and Suppression:

The riots started from 22nd August 1921. The riots were directed against the British and Hindus. The Moplahs wanted to clean Malabar of British and Hindus and establish an Islamic state. With this intention, horrendous crimes against Hindus and British was carried out. Sexual violence was carried out in an unprecedented scale. Nearly 10,000 Hindus killed by rebels. Had this been a rebellion, then Moplahs would have targeted the landowners and British. But that was not the case, entire Hindu population was targeted. For a while Malabar region slipped off the control of British.

Ernad and Valluvanad were declared "Khilafat kingdoms".

The British then brought in the feared Gorkha regiment to suppress the riots and by end 1921- early 1922 the riots were suppressed. The ringleaders (all of them Muslims) were either hanged or deported to Andamans.

Role of congress, Gandhiji and other leaders:

The atrocities inflicted on Hindus were so barbaric, many nationalist leaders like Ambedkar, Annie Besant criticized the riots in extreme harsh words. However, Congress and Gandhiji distanced themselves from the incident and never criticized it. Here is the text of Resolution No. 3 of the Ahmedabad session of the INC, where Gandhiji was appointed as its sole executive authority, on 24 December 1921, in connection with the Moplah Riots:

The Congress expresses its firm conviction that the Moplah disturbance was not due to the Non-Co-operation or the Khilafat movement, especially as theā€¦Khilafat preachers were denied access to the affected parts by the District authorities for six months before the disturbance, but is due to causes wholly unconnected with the two movements and that the outbreak would not have occurred had the message of non-violence been allowed to reach them. Nevertheless, this Congressā€¦is of the opinion that theā€¦disturbance in Malabar could have been prevented by the Government of Madras accepting the proffered assistance of Maulana Yakub Hassanā€¦

My conclusion:

  1. Yes, Zamindari system is not a correct one. But, the same system prevailed all through out India. Then why only Malabar?
  2. This incident arises from the Jihadi mentality of snatching others’ wealth. Similar example is the eviction of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley.
  3. Why were Khilafat kingdoms declared once British lose control of portions in Malabar? Had this been a nationalist revolt, they should have called it “Malabar Secular Republic“.
  4. Why were Hindus irrespective of landowning status slaughtered? The intention was simple: clean the land of the Hindus.
  5. Hence, this absolutely not a rebellion, but a Hindu genocide. It is the outcome of utter intolerance propagated and preached by Islam.
  6. Had the Khalifate movement not occurred, then the genocide would not have occurred. The Khalifate movement had nothing to do with Indian independence nor had anything to do with reform in Indian society.
  7. Congress and Gandhiji should not have sided with the Jihadi elements. Had they not, Congress would not have been Talibanized and future of India would have been different.

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