Malabar Kalabam

(Also known as "Moplah Rebellion", "Malabar Uprising", "MāppilaLahaḷa" and “Khilafath”)

In early twentieth century the non-cooperation movement against the British was in full swing. The deep dissatisfaction of the Muslim community in Malabar in the British rule turned in to a mass protest against British and Landlords, Hence the Kilafath struggle was ignited in 1920, the extremist’s mappila rebellions were agitated over the Khilafat issue.

The rebellion was an occurrence of considerable importance in the history of Indian National Movement. The revolt and out lash was the reaction expressing the of powerful resistance and dissatisfaction to the British political setup which empowered the Janmis and Kanamdars. The Mappila Khilafatists successfully ran a parallel peoples government for few months in open defense against British Government. The British Government managed to collect and destroyed all the materials related to the Khilafath committee. The attempt to picturice this moment as persecution against Hindus by Mappila was successful as many historians unabashedly parroted this great moment as a communal violence by referring to the versions only put forth by the British rulers.

The Khilafatists murdered many upper class Hindus (mostly landlords) and Muslims for spying or supporting the British administration. The non-social elements of Mappilas involved in looting and disturbing the communal balance of Malabar, offices had been looted everywhere. Some erring mappilas involved in forcible conversions, killing or drove away those who would not apostatize; this gave a communal touch to the Khilafat movement which widened the gap between the two communities. Due to the violent nature of struggle it’s still debated whether to consider the Khilafat movement as a Freedom struggle or a communal violence.

Apart from Malabar, the Khilafth also impacted the neighboring districts. The adjoining Nilgiri district of Madras presidency was also equally effected by the Khilafat struggle. The Planters where afraid about an attack by the rebellions and the Nilgiri District Magistrate ordered police patrolling from Nadugani to Pandalur on a daily basis, it also alerted the police post at pandalur which had 45 Police men under Mr.Furness, the District Superintendent of Police.

The mass repression made by the British troops in November-December 1921 literally crushed the mapplias (moplahs) , a large number of rebels were killed in a series of encounters. But the rebels made all possible attempts to revive from the demoralization attempt . On 8th of December 1921 a large number of Khilafaties including ChembrasseriTangal, VariankunnathKunhamad Haji, KarathMoidinKutti Haji, Abdu Haji, MukriAyamad, the KonnaraTangal and many other leaders gathered , they then planned a raid up to Pandalur in the Nilgiri-Wynaad, apparently to get arms and ammunition. This showed that their spirt was not broken.

On the night of December 14th 1921, a band of 600 rebels under the leadership of MukriAyamad and KunhiMerkayar went up through the forest and reached pandalur. First they raided the post office and killed the Sub Inspector of police who was resting, the postmaster escaped by hiding behind an almirah, then they surprised the special police camped in a club house at Pandalur along with some survey team and killed two police men. The rebels set fire to the building and destroyed the survey instruments and records, one deputy surveyor and two survey peons were burnt to death. Rebels carried away with seven police guns and a good deal of ammunition and some survey instruments. The rebels pass throuthPandalurbazaar , looted and completely destroyed the shop owned by Kunalikutty Haji a local trader and a British supporter. His life was saved by his friend MallaGawder- chief of the Gowder community in PandalurHatty.

The District Superintendent of Police, Mr.Furness reached Ooty safely after a narrow escape from this attack.This incident led to a demand for the extension of Martial Law to the Nilgiri-Wayanad from the District Magistrate of Ootacamund, at a time when the military authorities were themselves considering the possibility of withdrawing Martial Law from Malabar. The Government did not support the demand, but sanctioned the deployment of a further detachment of 50 armed police to be stationed at Pandalur, then the military were withdrawn; and no further trouble occurred in the Nilgiri -Wynad.

An Indian General Service Medal ( Malabar Service Medal ) , which was awarded to the officers and men of the British and Indian armies who took part in the suppression of the Moplah (Mappila) Rebellion in Malabar (20th August 1921 – 25th February 1922 )


  • The Moplah Rebellion, 1921 ;C.Gopalan Nair;1923;P28).
  • The Yorkshire Post, 20 December 1921