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Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji

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Name  Variyan Kunjahammed

Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji httpsiytimgcomviKhBC8xuKBIcdefaultjpg
Known for  Leader of Mappila Uprising (1921-22)
Died  January 20, 1922, Malappuram


Chakkiparamban Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji (died 22 January 1922) Malabar Rebellion In the Indian subcontinent between 1857 and 1947. He stealthily raised an army of 75,000 strong natives, seized control of a large area from the British rule and set up a parallel government in Malabar, now part of the Kerala State, Republic of India, with his long term mentor, friend and a popular teacher and religious scholar Ali Musliyar. It was the only single instance where the British had to concede an area as large as 5200 square kilometers to a parallel rule for about five months.


Background & Early Life

He was born to a merchant Variankunnath Moideen Kutty Haji and Paravatti Kunhayishumma at Nellikkuth, Manjeri. He completed his basic education from Velluvangad Mappila Primary School and got his basic religious education from the village Othupally, a makeshift religious school usually built adjacent to a Mosque. He hailed from a wealthy family with a history of anti-British rebellions and the family maintained a good relationship with the family of Ali Musliyar. His father was among those deported to and imprisoned in the then notorious Andaman Jails for taking part in the 1894 Mannarkkad Rebellion. Six of his extended family members were killed in the action. After his father was jailed, he assumed the leadership of the working class community in the area who detested both the British rule and their landowners, which they suspected collusion with the British colonial power structure, while getting on with the business of his father. This takeover soon attracted the attention of local administration and they put a ring of spies around him to watch him round the clock under the supervision of Khan Bahadur Chekkutty. Heeding the advises of a friend named Ahmed Kurikkal, he escaped to Bombay seeking a reprieve from the British surveillance and then to Makkah. It was said that he was robbed on his way to Makkah by Beduins and was staying with a local family who saved him from the desert. During the self-imposed exile, he visited home a few times but was compelled to go back due to the continued surveillance, before he finally decided to settle permanently at his native place in 1914.

Non-cooperation movement and allied Khilafat movement by Congress

As per this book, during the Non-cooperation movement, in liaison with Khilafat movement, Congress had rolled out a program to setup Congress Sabhas across Kerala.

"...By June, 1921, Congress Sabhas had increased to a respectable figure in Kerala. Mr. K. P. Kesava Menon published the strength on 11th June, 1921, to be 189 Sabhas and 18,007 members, excluding 38 Sabhas, who had not reported their figures..."

The Muslim population of Malabar rallied under the Khilafat movement, and also setup 100 Khilafat Committees. These Khilafat committees had their Principality leaders, and volunteers.

"....Khilafat and non-co-operation movements were indistinguishable ; and they were worked as the common platform of the Congress in Malabar. Every Moplah centre had a Khilafat association, with a Moplah president, a Moplah secretary and a majority of Moplah members. The number or such Khilafat committees is not known, but in Case No. 128 of 1922, on the file of the Special Judge, Calicut, it has been mentioned that "there may have been as many' as 100 Khilafat Committees formed in the two taluks of Ernad and Ponnani...."

There were several leaders who made up the Khilafat movement. Some of the prominent leaders included

  • Ali Musaliar (Leader of the movement)
  • Kunhi Kadir, Khilafat Secretary, Tanur
  • Variankunnath Kunhammad Haji
  • Kunhj Koya, Thangal, President of the Khilafat Committee, Malappuram
  • Koya Tangal of Kumaramputhur, Governor of a Khilafat Principality
  • Chembrasseri Imbichi Koya Thangal ( Notortious for his killing of 38 men by slashing the necks and throwing them into a well.)
  • Palakamthodi Avvocker Musaliar
  • Konnara Mohammed Koya Thangal
  • Madhavan Nair
  • Role & position of Kunahammed Haji in the Caliphate

    During the Moplah rebellion, each of the above played direct roles in the destruction of British offices, killing of British officers in guerrilla combat.

    Kunahammed Haji rose from a job as a cart man to the role of Governor of the Caliphate principality of Ernad and Walluvanad. His role in the rebellion is described in Page 77 of ref

    ".....On the introduction of the Khilafat movement he joined it and became one of the chief workers ; organised Sabhas, and became the guiding spirit of the Khilafat in Ernad. On the outbreak of the rebellion he became king, celebrated his accession by the murder of Khan Bahadur Chekkutti, a Moplah retired Police Inspector, who was decapitated while expiring in his wife's arms.

    Further the book states.

    "....He styled himself Raja of the Hindus, Amir of the Mohammedans and Colonel of the Khilafat Army. He wore a fez-cap, wore the Khilafat uniform and badge and he had a sword in his hand. He enjoyed absolute Swaraj in his Kingdom of Ernad and Walluvanad: he announced that he was aware that the inhabitants have suffered greatly from robbery and looting, that he would impose no taxation on them this year (1921) save in the way of donations to his Ayudha* Fund and that next year, the taxes must be forthcoming. He ordered numbers of agricultural labourers to reap and ring in the paddy raised on the Tirumulpad's lands, the harvesters being paid in cash and the grains' set apart to feed the Haji's forces. He issued passports to persons wishing to get outside his kingdom and the cost of a pass was a very flexible figure, according to the capacity of the individual concerned...."

    List of acts committed

    The exact nature of acts committed by Kunhammed Haji is documented across the book in many places, and there are roughly around 4 to 5 references regarding Kunhammed Haji.

  • Killing of Police Inspector Khan Bahadur Chekkutti, decapitating the head, and parading the head in a spear.
  • Collection of taxes (collecting of harvest directly from the Tirumulpad Estate.)
  • Collection of money called Ayudha Fund, towards purchase of weapons for the uprising.
  • Issuance of passports to people to leave Malabar
  • Guerilla warfare on British officers in various militant engagements with the officers in 1921.
  • Kunahammed Haji and his followers were captured on 7 January 1921, by the British force. C.Gopalan Menons book mentions a diary entry as follows

    Pursuit & Capture by British troops

    "7th January, '21 : — Kunhamad Haji with 21 followers, one. 303 rifle, 10 police rifles, and four other B. L. firearms were captured by a specially organised Police Force under the leadership of Subadar Gopala Menon and Sub-Inspector Ramanatha Iyer at Chokad yesterday. "

    He was sentenced to death by a British military court. Kunahammed's death virtually ended the rebellion for a Caliphate, and peace and the order of the British government was restored in a few months from January. The following diary entry in that book record the date, and circumstance of his sentencing & death. No further details were available.

    "20th January, '22: — Variankunnath Kunhamad Haji and six other Moplahs who were charged with waging war and tried by a Military court, were shot at Malappuram to-day.

    The capture of the " Khilafat King ", Varian Kunnath Kunhamad Haji, marked the collapse of the rebellion. " There are only two bands of active rebels left to be dealt with. They are under the leadership of two minor leaders, Konnara Tangal and Moideen Kutty Haji. They are being vigorously pursued and are decreasing in numbers owing to surrenders and casualties. Various detachments of troops have already left the area and it is hoped that the two battalions will have left by the 25th instant, and the force will be reduced to approximately peace garrison by the middle of next month. The total approximate rebel casualties up to date are 2,266 killed, 1,615 wounded and 5,688 captured and 38,256 surrenders. (Madras Mail Jan. 23rd '22)

    Judgement in British court

    The monstrosity of the crime committed by Kunahammed Haji is described in the Appendix IX, which carries the text of the judgement passed the Court during the trial of Kunahammed Haji.

    Murder of Retired Police Inspector Khan Bahadur Chekkutti and of Head Constable Hydross on 30 August 1921. Remarks of the Special Judge, Malabar. Case No. 73/'22.

    " These were the two of the most brutal murders in the rebellion which cost the lives of two loyal Government officers who were killed for doing their duty and for their services to the Crown. It is difficult to say which of the two was the more dreadful and the callous crime. In Chekutti's case the murderers had the decency to send away the women-folk before they finished the deceased off, but they were guilty of appalling barbarity in subsequently parading the head on a spear. In the case of Hydross the murder was carried out in the presence of his wife and children and in spite of the entreaties of the latter and the efforts of his wife to protect her husband."

    The method adopted to kill a government officer by decapitating the police officer and putting his head on a spear was a warning for anyone who would cooperate with the Colonial Rule. Chekkutty was tried under Martial Rule imposed by the Caliphate. The charge sheet incriminated Chekkutty for 300 crimes against the agrarian community of Ernad, and took about 40 minutes to read aloud in front of the crowd that appeared to witness the proceedings.

    Final Moments

    Variyan Kunnath was sentenced to death by Martial law Commander Colonel Humphrey. When asked about his last wish he said so "I haven't seen how you kill people, but I've heard about it. When you kill them, you blindfold them, you tie their hands, and you shoot them at their behind. Please don't show that generosity to me. Let my eyes be open. Let my hands be free. The bullet which take my life should hit on my chest." He was shot dead on January 20, 1922 at Kottakkunnu. British officials burned his dead body along with his five months parallel government records.


    Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji Wikipedia