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Mappila Riots

There were a series of violent disturbances against the British during the 19th Century. These disturbances are known as Mappila riots. These upsurges occurred through out Malabar, but the main centers of revolt were in Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of South Malabar. As the majority of the population were the peasants and were Mappilas, the company officials characterised these struggles as the outrages of the fanatical Mappilas. Hence the name Moplah riots.


Twenty-two such rebellions occurred during the period from 1835-1853. A common feature of these riots was the murder of Hindu Janmis and desecration of Hindu temples. According to one school of thought, the Mappila out breaks were nothing more than premeditated acts of religious fanaticism, a view strongly held by Mr. T.L. Strange who enquired in to the causes of the disturbances. As the victims of the outrages were invariably the Hindu Landlords, Communal fanaticism could not be ruled out at least in the beginning. But as the unrest continued, it assumed the character of an agrarian revolt. Logan held the view that these outbreaks had their origin in agrarian depression and poverty. The real cause of the Moplah outbreak, according to him, was the mistaken revenue policy of the British government, which considered the Hindu Janmi as the overlord of the soil and the Moplah ryots having no right over the land. In fact all the three elements – agrarian grievance, religious bigotry, general economic backwardness – led the Moplahs to indulge in violent outbreaks.


As the violence continued to occur, in spite of reconciliatory measure it created a law and order problem. The Government created a new police force (Malabar Special Police) in 1845 to crush the riots. But riots continued to occur culminating in the murder of the district magistrate Conolly by four Moplah convicts. The riots began to slow down later due to the repressive policy of the government on the one hand and the implementation of ameliorative and welfare measures like tenancy reforms on the other. The Hindu-Muslim relations were greatly affected by these riots. Modern historians see the genesis of the Malabar Rebellion of 1921 in the Moplah riots of the 19th Century.

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