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Editorial

Shrouding the Genesis of Partition

Prafulla Ketkar

Prafulla KetkarSep 20, 2021, 04:59 PM IST

Shrouding the Genesis of Partition

The Hindus were visited by a dire fate at the hands of the Moplas. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, such as ripping open pregnant women, pillage, arson and destruction— in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism, were perpetrated freely by the Moplas upon the Hindus until such time as troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order through a difficult and extensive tract of the country. This was not a Hindu-Moslem riot. This was just a Bartholomew. The number of Hindus who were killed, wounded or converted, is not known. But the number must have been enormous”.   – B R Ambedkar, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar,  Writings and Speeches, New Delhi: Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, 2014, pp. volume 8, P.163

 

A day before the celebration of Independence Day, Government of Bharat decided to commemorate August 14 as the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.  On September 25, now Malabar Hindu Genocide Day is also turning out to be a widespread commemoration. These two cenotaph days may look different but they are intrinsically connected.  

In 1921, hundred years ago, in the name of Khilafat, the idea of pan-Islamism was systematically nurtured among Muslims. Though the thinking of being natural rulers of Hindus was there among Muslim elites, the idea of Islamic Caliphate, based on global Islamic Brotherhood was not there. Naturally, common Muslims, as even today in large parts of Bharat, had no hesitation in following the Bharatiya cultural practices. As Sri Aurobindo articulated, “the Khilafat affair made that separate political entity an organised separate  political power”. 

Denial of Bharatiya cultural roots, which was essentially Hindu, and non-acceptance of ‘infidel’ leadership was also fundamental to the idea of Khilafat. Hence, tactical support was extended to Gandhiji and his Non-Cooperation but his leadership was never accepted. Instead of contributing to the Swaraj Fund constituted by Lokmanya Tilak, separate Khilafat Fund was raised. The Ulemas, journalists, educationists and activists were systematically infiltrated to various social spaces to occupy leadership positions. Eventually most of them again got together with the demand for Pakistan in 1930s. 

The Khilafat movement was not just a tool for religious mobilisation based on  symbolism but was an exercise of usurping power based on brute force.  Moplah rebellion, especially the Thuvoor massacre, gave communal violence prevalent from 1860s a  pan-Bharat template.  

The ghastly attacks started with Avoovakkar Mussaliar, a local Khilafat leader, along with his followers forcefully occupying a Namboodiri house in a village called Thuvoor located around thirty kilometers from Kozhikode, captured a Shiva temple in the premises and converted it into a Sharia Court. Bringing all Hindu ‘kafirs’ of surrounding houses, he gave them a choice of converting to Islam or getting killed.  

Those who refused to convert were slashed with a sharp sword in the neck and were pushed into a well. Only when one of the victims, named Kelappan, managed to get out of that well, through a creeper, and reached a nearby Police station, the administration came to know about this barbaric incident. Around 60-70 dead bodies were recovered. However, as per the then reports of Arya Samaj, there were three such wells, in which 300 bodies of Hindus were found. The date was September 25, 1921. This pattern was followed in many parts of Bharat, even at the time of Partition.  

Contrary to the Congress narrative, this was certainly not a ‘non-violent’ ‘freedom struggle’. The communists claims of Moplah riots being a peasants’ revolution, flounders miserably by the fact that most of the victims belonged to Ezhava, Nair, Pulaya and Cheruma communities, traditionally considered as the lower castes.  

The commemoration of Malabar Hindu Genocide Day is a tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives for Swa-Dharma. At the same time, it is a grim reminder that the seeds of Partition were sown much earlier in Malabar in terms of ideation and action. The same Moplah template was executed in 1947 at the time of Partition and in 1990s, in the Kashmir valley.  If Nation First is to be the mantra, then Khilafati/Pan-Islamist mindset has to be negated. That is the underlying message of the Malabar Genocide Day.  

@PrafullaKetkar

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