Rama Varma Kunhjippilla Thampuran, or Rama Varma IX, popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805) was the ruler of the Kingdom of Cochin. He was the King of the present-day southern Indian city of Kochi and his palace was in Thrissur. Thrissur is known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala owing to its astounding traditional festivals and monumental ancient temples. Sakthan Thampuran is hailed as the architect of the iconic city of Thrissur. The famous Thrissur Pooram festival said to have been started by him.
He was popularly called Sakthan Thampuran as he was very firm in dealing with criminals. The Moplah Muslims were infamous for looting and harassing Hindus in Kerala, but here is the story of how Sakthan Thampuran reined in the lawless Moplahs in his kingdom.
A person named Adarsh Hegde narrated the story of Sakhtan Thampuran’s strict no-nonsense attitude of punishing Mopla criminals unnerved the whole community to follow the rule of law and refrain from criminal activities in his area.
According to the story mentioned in the Aithihyamala of Kerala, once a Namboodiri was travelling from Tripunirura to Ernakulam across the hilly areas. The area was infested with Moplahs notorious for trouble making and indulging in various crimes which was a challenge to all rulers.
On his way the Namboodiri was attacked by a group of Moplahs who looted all money and gold ornaments. Saddened by his loss, the Namboodiri proceeded to the palace of Sakthan Thampuran and complained to the King.
The King viewed this brazen loot and dacoity as a challenge to his governance and passed an order instructing all Moplas in his territory to assemble at the Palace Gate.
Moplahs assembled at the Palace gate with an arrogant and intimidating attitude. The Raja appeared in the balcony of the Palace and commanded the Moplahs , ” I have been given to understand that there are some anti-social elements here who trouble people. A Namboodiri was also robbed of his money in this area. I command the culprits to come forward and surrender”
He also warned, “If you are trying to safeguard your people who have committed crime, you will also be punished”. When the Raja’s command was followed by complete silence and none came forward to own up the crime, he ordered, “I gave you enough time, but you did not respond. Let everyone be drowned in the backwaters”.
His order was followed promptly and the Moplas who gathered at the Palace were drowned. The same procedure was adopted by the King in the evening when next batch of Moplas gathered at his Palace.
Soon the Moplahs of Ernakulam started panicking and the very next day, early in the morning the remaining Moplahs came rushing to the Palace with the looted gold and money and begged for sparing their lives. They also promised the King to follow the rule of law and not indulge in criminal activities in future.
After the tough handling of the Mopla criminals by the King, the community never dared to indulge in criminal activities in the territory ruled by the great Sakthan Thampuran.
In this story, lies a message for our present government to deal with criminals who hide behind their religious identity and think it is their bithright to loot others wealth, property, murder and rape women. The Raja did not spare the whole community as all were involved in sharing the loot and harbouring criminals. His tough stance forced them to at least behave and abjure violence if not reform from within.
With West Bengal burning today and a state sponsored pogrom of Hindus is underway, the central government should take a leaf out of Sakthan Thampuran’s recipes for dealing with lawless political criminals and Islamist terrorists in Bengal.
Image sourced from internet, Adarsh Hegde’s tweets
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