historyofindia

Khilafat movement and the Moplah Massacre

The birth of pseudo-secularism

Mr. Gandhi. At the very commencement of his career as a political leader of India when Mr. Gandhi startled the people of India by his promise to win Swaraj within six months, Mr. Gandhi said that he could perform the miracle only if certain conditions were fulfilled. One of these conditions was the achievement of Hindu-Muslim unity.
The Mahomedans started the Khilafat movement in 1919. The objective of the movement was two-fold: to preserve the Khilafat and to maintain the integrity of the Turkish Empire. Both these objectives were unsupportable. The Khilafat could not be saved simply because the Turks, in whose interest this agitation was carried on, did not want the Sultan. They wanted a republic, and it was quite unjustifiable to compel the Turks to keep Turkey a monarchy when they wanted to convert it into a republic. 

 It was taken up by Mr. Gandhi with a tenacity and faith which must have surprised many Mahomedans themselves. There were many people who doubted the ethical basis of the Khilafat movement and tried to dissuade Mr. Gandhi from taking any part in a movement the ethical basis of which was so questionable. But Mr. Gandhi had so completely persuaded himself of the justice of the Khilafat agitation that he refused to yield to their advice. The position taken up by him may be summed up in his own words.

In my opinion, the Turkish claim is not only not immoral and unjust, but it is highly equitable, only because Turkey wants to retain what is her own. And the Mahomedan manifesto has definitely declared that whatever guarantee may be… Click To Tweet I have already stated that, if I were not interested in the Indian Mahomedans, I would not interest myself in the welfare of the Turks any more than I am in that of the Austrians or the Poles. But I am bound as an Indian to share the… Click To Tweet

Mr. Gandhi not only agreed with the Muslims in the Khilafat cause but acted as their guide and their friend. The part played by Mr. Gandhi in the Khilafat agitation and the connection between the Khilafat agitation and the Non-co-operation Movement has become obscure by the reason of the fact that most people believed that it was the Congress which initiated the Non-co-operation Movement and it was done as a means for winning Swaraj. That such a view should prevail is quite understandable, because most people content themselves with noting the connection between the Non-co-operation Movement and the special session of the Congress held at Calcutta on 7th and 8th September 1920.
But anyone who cares to go behind September 1920 and examine the situation as it then stood, will find that this view is not true. The truth is that the non-co-operation has its origin in the Khilafat agitation and not in the Congress Movement for Swaraj: that it was started by the Khilafatists to help Turkey and adopted by the Congress only to help the Khilafatists: that Swaraj was not its primary object, but its primary object was Khilafat and that Swaraj was added as a secondary object to induce the Hindus to join it will be evident from the following facts.

Ali Brothers

After inaugurating the Non-co-operation Movement as an active member of the Khilafat Committee Mr. Gandhi next directed his energy to the cause of persuading the Congress to adopt non-co-operation and strengthen the Khilafat movement. With that object in view Mr. Gandhi toured the country between 1st August and 1st September 1920 in the company of the Ali Brothers who were the founders of the Khilafat movement, impressing upon the people the necessity of non-co-operation. People could notice the disharmony in the tune of Mr. Gandhi and the Ali Brothers. As the Modern Review pointed out: “Reading between the lines of their speeches, it is not difficult to see that with one of them the sad plight of the Khilafat in distant Turkey is the central fact, while with the other attainment of Swaraj here in India is the object in view.”

For a long time the Hindus had been engaged in wooing the Muslims to their side. The Congress was very anxious to bridge the gulf between itself and the Muslim League. The ways and means adopted in 1916 for bringing about this consummation and which resulted in the Lucknow Pact signed between the Congress and the Muslim League have been graphically told by Swami Shradhanand in his impressions of the Congress Session held in that year at Lucknow. Says the Swami:

“On sitting on the dias (Lucknow Congress platform) the first thing that I noticed was that the number of Moslem delegates was proportionately fourfold of what it was at Lahore in 1893. The majority of Moslem delegates had donned gold, silver and silk embroidered chogas (flowing robes) over their ordinary coarse suits of wearing apparel. It was rumoured that these ‘chogas’ had been put by Hindu moneyed men for Congress Tamasha. Of some 433 Moslem delegates only some 30 had come from outside, the rest belonging to Lucknow City.

“A show was being made of the Moslem delegates. Moslem delegate gets up to second a resolution in Urdu. He begins: ‘Hozarat, I am a Mahomedan delegate.’ Some Hindu delegate gets up and calls for three cheers for Mahomedan delegates and the response is so enthusiastic as to be beyond description.”

Liberator, 22nd April 1926.
  • When the Musalmans in 1919 approached the Hindus for participation in the Non-co-operation Movement which the Muslims desired to start for helping Turkey and the Khilafat, the Hindus were found to be divided in three camps. One was a camp of those who were opposed to non-co-operation in principle.
  • A second camp consisted of those Hindus who were prepared to join the Muslims in their campaign of non-co-operation provided the Musalmans agreed to give up Cow Slaughter.
  • A third group consisted of the Hindus who feared that the Mahomedans might extend their non-co-operation to inviting the Afghans to invade India, in which case the movement instead of resulting in Swaraj might result in the subjection of India to Muslim Raj.

Mr. Gandhi did not care for those Hindus who were opposed to joining the Muslims in the Non-co-operation Movement. But with regard to the others he told them that their attitude was unfortunate. To those Hindus who wanted to give their support on the condition that the Muslims give up cow killing,

Co-operation that needs consideration is a commercial contract and not friendship. Conditional co-operation is like adulterated cement which does not bind. It is the duty of the Hindus, if they see the justice of the Mahomedan cause to render co-operation.

Young India, 10th December 1939.

Within a year of the starting of the Non-co-operation Movement, Mr. Gandhi had to admit that the. Musalmans had grown impatient and that:“In their impatient anger, the Musalmans ask for more energetic and more prompt action by the Congress and Khilafat organisations. To the Musalmans, Swaraj means, as it must mean, India’s ability to deal effectively with the Khilafat question. The Musalmans, therefore, decline to wait if the attainment of Swaraj means indefinite delay of a programme that may require the Musalmans of India to become impotent witnesses of the extinction of Turkey in European waters.

The Musalmans were not in a mood to listen to the advice of Mr. Gandhi. They refused to worship the principle of non-violence. They were not prepared to wait for Swaraj. They were in a hurry to find the most expeditious means of helping Turkey and saving the Khilafat. And the Muslims in their impatience did exactly what the Hindus feared they would do, namely, invite the Afghans to invade India.

Mr Gandhi in his misguided zeal for Swaraj, and his obsession on Hindu-Moslem unity as the only means of achieving it, led him to support the project. Not only did he advise the Amir not to enter into any treaty with the British Government but declared:

"I would, in a sense, certainly assist the Amir of Afghanistan if he waged war against the British Government. That is to say, I would openly tell my countrymen that it would be a crime to help a government which had lost the… Click To Tweet

These are not the only things Mr. Gandhi has done to build up Hindu-Moslem unity. He has never called the Muslims to account even when they have been guilty of gross crimes against Hindus.

    It is a notorious fact that many prominent Hindus who had offended the religious susceptibilities of the Muslims either by their writings or by their part in the Shudhi movement have been murdered by some fanatic Musalmans. First to suffer was Swami Shradhanand, who was shot by Abdul Rashid on 23rd December 1926 when he was lying in his sick bed. This was followed by the murder of Lala Nanakchand, a prominent Arya Samajist of Delhi. Rajpal, the author of the Rangila Rasool, was stabbed by Ilamdin on 6th April 1929 while he was sitting in his shop. Nathuramal Sharma was murdered by Abdul Qayum in September 1934. It was an act of great daring. For Sharma was stabbed to death in the Court of the Judicial Commissioner of Sind where he was seated awaiting the hearing of his appeal against his conviction under Section 195, 1. P. C., for the publication of a pamphlet on the history of Islam. Khanna, the Secretary of the Hindu Sabha, was severely assaulted in 1938 by the Mahomedans after the Session of the Hindu Maha Sabha held in Ahmedabad and very narrowly escaped death.

Mr. Gandhi has been very punctilious in the matter of condemning any and every act of violence and has forced the Congress, much against its will to condemn it. But Mr. Gandhi has never protested against such murders. Not only have the Musalmans not condemned these outrages but even Mr. Gandhi has never called upon the leading Muslims to condemn them. He has kept silent over them. Such an attitude can be explained only on the ground that Mr. Gandhi was anxious to preserve Hindu-Moslem unity and did not mind the murders of a few Hindus, if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives.

The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplas in Malabar against the Hindus were indescribable. All over Southern India, a wave of horrified feeling had spread among the Hindus of every shade of opinion, which was intensified when certain Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of “congratulations to the Moplas on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion.” Any person could have said that this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Moslem unity. But Mr. Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Moslem unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplas and the Khilafats who were congratulating them. He spoke of the Moplas as the “brave God-fearing Moplas who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious.” Speaking of the Muslim silence over the Mopla atrocities Mr. Gandhi told the Hindus:

“The Hindus must have the courage and the faith to feel that they can protect their religion in spite of such fanatical eruptions. A verbal disapproval by the Mussalmans of Mopla madness is no test of Mussalman friendship. The Mussalmans must naturally feel the shame and humiliation of the Mopla conduct about forcible conversions and looting, and they must work away so silently and effectively that such a thing might become impossible even on the part of the most fanatical among them. My belief is that the Hindus as a body have received the Mopla madness with equanimity and that the cultured Mussalmans are sincerely sorry of the Mopla’s perversion of the teaching of the Prophet.”

The few Hindus of Malabar who had joined the non-cooperation movement were not prepared for the violence & wreckage the Mohammedans had planned.

Hindus withdrew from the Malabar rebellion almost as soon as it broke out. This incurred the wrath of the Jihadi Mapillas on the Hindus apart from the British, who were trying to contain the troops of rebels.

“Distressed by the violence, most Malabar Hindus withdrew from the struggle, which, by default, became the Mappila revolt.” Click To Tweet

The rebellion continued for 6 months, during which period, atrocities of every kind were meted out to Hindus. It had severe fallout for the Mappilas as well. More than 200 Mappilas were executed, 502 were sentenced to life imprisonment, and approximately 50,000 were imprisoned or exiled to Andaman, and heavy fines were levied on them by the British government. The zealotry exhibited by the Mappilas was shocking, and it was evident that their war was not just for liberation from British, but for Islamic dominance.

During the entire Moplah Rebellion, unspeakable, unimaginable atrocities were committed against Hindus, which is why it should rightly be called the Moplah Hindu Genocide. By not doing so, a severe injustice is done to those who gave their lives and livelihoods due to the Islamic Jihad waged on them.

The total figure of at least 2,500 Hindus brutally slaughtered, and another 2500 forcibly converted, is quoted in several accounts. Other brutalities include violating the modesty of women, butchering children, and forcing Hindus into submission and death. These atrocities were reported in international news dailies and accounts of the district magistrates and other police officials.

“In the Arya Samaj registers alone 1766 cases of forced converts have been recorded and if the figures from all relief committees were collected, their number is sure to exceed 2500.”

Pandit Rishi Ram’s Letter, Moplah Rebellion 1921, C. Gopalan Nair , p 119

The Resolution passed by the Working Committee of the Congress on the Mopla atrocities shows how careful the Congress was not to hurt the feelings of the Musalmans.

“The Working Committee places on record its sense of deep regret over the deeds of violence done by Moplas in certain areas of Malbar, these deeds being evidence of the fact that there are still people in India who have not understood the message of the Congress and the Central Khilafat Committee, and calls upon every Congress and Khilafat worker to spread the said message of non-violence even under the gravest provocation throughout the length and breadth of India.

“Whilst, however, condemning violence on the part of the Moplas, the working Committee desires it to be known that the evidence in its possession shows that provocation beyond endurance was given to the Moplas and that the reports published by and on behalf of the Government have given a one-sided and highly exaggerated account of the wrongs done by the Moplas and an understatement of the needless destruction of life resorted to by the Government in the name of peace and order.

The following instances of Muslim intransigence, over which Mr. Gandhi kept mum, are recorded by Swami Shradhanand in his weekly journal called the Liberator. Writing in the Liberator of 26th August 1926 the Swami says :
“The first warning was sounded when the question of condemning the Moplas for their atrocities on Hindus came up in the Subjects Committee. The original resolution condemned  the  Moplas wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments till it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Moslem leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed  the resolution and there was no wonder. But I was surprised, an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that the Mopla country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplas. Therefore, the Moplas were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. And if the Hindus became Mussalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplas was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only. There were other indications also, showing that the Mussalmans considered the Congress to be existing on their sufferance and if there was the least attempt to ignore their idiosyncracies the superficial unity would be scrapped asunder.”

Extracts from the Book PAKISTAN OR THE PARTITION OF INDIA

by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

CHAPTER VII : HINDU ALTERNATIVE TO PAKISTAN

III [Mr. Gandhi’s tenacious quest for Hindu-Muslim unity]

Bhootnath

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