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Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji

Topics Covered:  The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji

Context:

Freedom fighter Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji‘s life is set to be portrayed on the silver screen, in a project starring Malayalam actor Prithviraj Sukumaran.

Who was Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji?

  • Born in 1870s, he was a brave freedom fighter who stood up to the British in Kerala’s Malabar region in early 20th century and even established a short-lived regime of his own.
  • His father, Moideenkutty Haji, was deported and jailed in the Andaman Islands for his participation in a rebellion against the British. Such personal incidents, very early on in his life, played an important role in lighting the fire of vengeance inside Kunjahammed.
  • He used art as an instrument to rally the locals against the British.
  • He promised support the Indian National Congress and Khilafat movement against the atrocities of the British and the landlords.
  • Haji was aware of the strength of Hindu-Muslim unity and ensured people of other faiths were given adequate security.

Causes of the 1921 rebellion:

  • When Haji got the news that his countryman and Khilafat leader Ali Musaliyar was arrested at Tirurangadi and the mosque has been looted and some police officers killed in the ensuing fight, Haji decided to take arms against the British and arranged a band of army with the help of some sepoys who enthusiastically rallied behind him.
  • He ensured that the movement had a secular character. But at the same time, he targeted all those who helped the British, be they Hindu or Muslim.

Outcomes:

  1. As the rebellion helmed by the Haji and others began to spread across the Ernad and Valluvanad taluks of erstwhile Malabar district, British officers and the local police loyal to them escaped, leaving vast tracts of territory firmly under the control of the local rebels. The territory was declared an ‘independent state’ in August 1921 with Haji its undisputed ruler.
  2. For nearly six months, Haji ran a parallel Khilafat regime headquartered in Nilambur, with even its own separate passport, currency and system of taxation.
  3. During the time, an extensive army with the participation of Hindu men was built with the express aim of thwarting any attempt by the British to overthrow the Khilafat rule.
  4. Tenants were granted the power over the lands they cultivated along with tax incentives.

How his rule came to an end?

The rule did not last long. In January 1922, under the guise of a treaty, the British betrayed Haji through his close friend Unyan Musaliyar, arresting him from his hideout and producing him before a British judge. He was sentenced to death along with his compatriots.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who was Haji?
  2. What was the 1921 Malabar rebellion all about?
  3. How he established his own independent state and ruled it?
  4. What is Khilafat Movement?
  5. Outcomes of Khilafat movement.

Mains Link:

Who was Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji? How he stood up to the British in Malabar region in 1921? Discuss the outcomes of the rebellion.

Variyamkunnath_Kunjahammed_Haji

Sources: Indian Express.