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  • Writer's pictureMohinder Gulati

Moplah Massacre of Hindus: 101 years of denial - An interview with film makers Ramasimhan Aboobakar

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

25th September 1921 was a horrific day for Tuvvur in Mallapuram, Kerala. Massacre of Hindus started in August in conjunction with Khilafat (actually Caliphate of Ottoman Empire in Turkey) movement launched by Gandhi, led to killing of 50 Hindus in Tuvvur whose bodies were dumped in a well. During a period of four months before the genocide could be stopped in Kerala, more than 2,500 Hindus were killed by beheading and their dead bodies were thrown in wells just because they refused to convert to Islam. About one lakh Hindus were displaced or fled from their native villages and became refugees. Thousands of Hindu families got converted to Islam with the sword on their neck. The first CM of Kerala EMS Namboothiri who himself was a brahmin had fled from his ancestral home to save his life at that time. The testimonies of this brutal Hindu genocide come from Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar, Annie Besant, Kumaranaashan, K Madhavan Nair and more such leaders.

History of any genocide is painful; its denial is complicity in crime. Healing cannot start, closure cannot be achieved, if the victim is forced to push her pain in the deep caverns of her soul. Regrettably, this is what Kerala and Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has done to film maker Ramasimhan Aboobaker (previously known as Ali Akbar) whose film “Puzha Muthal Puzha Vare” on Moplah Massacre has itself been massacred with atrocious cuts by CBFC. Ramasimhan has made this film with crowd-funding, some as little as ₹50. We interviewed Ramasimhan (a name he took after conversion) to understand why the “system” was stacked against him. But before that, a little bit of history:

Successive governments in Kerala, Indian academia and media, have whitewashed 1921 Hindu genocide in Malabar as “freedom struggle” against colonial British rule and “class struggle” of farm workers against landlords. Worse still, Kerala government declared the perpetrators of genocide as freedom fighters (Deeptiman Tiwary, The Indian Express). In 2021, a panel of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), headed by Prof. CI Issac, recommended the need to remove 387 names of Moplah rebels from the list of Indian freedom fighters. The panel concluded that what took place in 1921, was by no means a freedom struggle, but a “Hindu genocide” that aimed at establishing an Islamist caliphate or Islamic State(Arun Anand, The Print) which was in essence the true aim of the Khilafat Movement in India. The same fundamentalist aggression is what caused massacre of thousands of innocent Hindus. “Prof Issac not only called, quite categorically, the Moplah rebellion “a jihad against Hindus”, but also insisted that its crushing by the Gorkha regiment of the British army ensured that India didn’t lose this part of India forever — just like Pakistan and Bangladesh” (Utpal Kumar, Firstpost).

Dr. Ambedkar wrote in his book ‘Pakistan or The Partition of India’ (Chapter VII, Part IV).

“Beginning with the year 1920 there occurred in that year in Malabar what is known as the Mopla Rebellion. It was the result of the agitation carried out by two Muslim organizations, the Khuddam-i-Kaba (servants of the Mecca Shrine) and the Central Khilafat Committee. Agitators actually preached the doctrine that India under the British Government was Dar-ul-Harab and that the Muslims must fight against it and if they could not, they must carry out the alternative principle of Hijrat. The Moplas were suddenly carried off their feet by this agitation. The outbreak was essentially a rebellion against the British Government. The aim was to establish the kingdom of Islam by overthrowing the British Government. Knives, swords and spears were secretly manufactured, bands of desperadoes collected for an attack on British authority. On 20th August a severe encounter took place between the Moplas and the British forces at Pinmangdi. Roads were blocked, telegraph lines cut, and the railway destroyed in a number of places. As soon as the administration had been paralysed, the Moplas declared that Swaraj had been established. A certain Ali Mudaliar was proclaimed Raja, Khilafat flags were flown, and Ernad and Wallurana were declared Khilafat Kingdoms. As a rebellion against the British Government, it was quite understandable. But what baffled most was the treatment accorded by the Moplas to the Hindus of Malabar. The Hindus were visited by a dire fate at the hands of the Moplas. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, such as ripping open pregnant women, pillage, arson and destruction—in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism, were perpetrated freely by the Moplas upon the Hindus until such time as troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order through a difficult and extensive tract of the country. This was not a Hindu-Moslem riot. This was just a Bartholomew. The number of Hindus who were killed, wounded or converted, is not known. But the number must have been enormous.”

With the Twitter Hashtag #ReleaseRamasimhanMovie - In September of 2022, Hindus continue to protest and legally battle against a system that continues to deny a platform or a voice to their lived experiences and realities. Ramasimhan’s feature film - Puzha Muthal Puzha Vare (From River to River) ready for release earlier this year, has been denied censor board certificate by both the Kerala Censor Board and later the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC). According to Ramasimhan, the CBFC has stalled the film and has wrongfully imposed several cuts, which he feels “whitewash the brutality that was heaped on Hindus during the Malabar Genocide of Hindus”

In an interview with Global Hindu Temple Network, Ramasimhan shared his struggles, hopes and expectations moving forward on his mission to fight both the system that appeases the Islamic Jihad and the radical education that sustains it.

What are the next steps, now that both the Kerala Censor Board and CBFC have turned against your film?

We are approaching the High Court after having served a notice to the Central Government. I believe that the film will be released in the theaters, because many people, their strength and their prayer is with me. There is no censorship on OTT platforms, but I want to release the film in at least 1 theater in India. I have visited all the parts (of Kerala) where the genocide took place, during the making of this film. I have seen the broken temples, met the newer generations of the victims and survivors. Even though I have shown only 1% of the magnitude, the Censor Boards have refused to clear it. The horrors are extremely painful and too many to recount, however, it is crucial to remember it the way it happened, not the whitewashed lies we have been fed all along. We must unite and work with the government to ensure we don’t end up repeating the past.

How do you feel about this systemic suppression that you have had to encounter?

This suppression is actually because of the Jihad taking place here in the Malabar region, like in other parts of Kerala and India, across hundreds of years. There is a trend now, of Ex-Muslims in Kerala, who are leaving Islam and are openly criticizing rituals in Islam and the ideas propagated. This is a positive change in an attempt to control radicalism. In districts that are dominated by Muslims, there is already a plan to establish an Islamic State in India by 2047, and it is very much possible that it can happen before that. The Madrasa education needs to change, as it is not scientific, and goes only by old beliefs;. in 2022 they are dreaming for Heaven and sacrificing for Heaven, believing 72 Hoors. Since leaving Islam, I have had only threats and challenges come to me, but I kept moving forward, making my voice heard as much I can.

What gives you inspiration and courage?

My inspiration is Shri Krishna and Sanātana Dharma, because Sanātana Dharma is all inclusive, of everything and everyone, there is no differentiation, due to which all can live peacefully in Dharma. The story of Ramasimhan (from whom I borrowed my name) is also something that gives me immense courage and strength. He left Islam at the time of Indian Freedom in 1947 but was hacked to death along with his entire family and house help by radical Islamists. One day, on screen, I will retell his story as well, so the world can continue to draw inspiration in his honor. This will popularize the name Ramasimhan as well, such that many more Ramasimhans can come. There is no point in living in fear or worry of what will happen if death comes. How can society sustain in such a way? We must keep doing our Dharma.

Is there any support you seek?

The only support I seek from the Indian government, is to ensure that the system is reformed, and the cultural institutions and our history are protected, so that we continue to have the right knowledge of civilizational struggles, and don’t end up allowing what happened in 1921 to repeat in any part of Independent India.

Ramasimhan echoes the sentiments of a billion Hindus: Never to allow repetition of what happened in Moplah massacre. But do our actions match our sentiments? Did Hindus in Kashmir not face the genocide in 1990, did Hindus not suffer the pogrom after elections in West Bengal in 2021? While commemorating the 1921 Hindu genocide of Malabar, we leave with you a thought: what do we need to do to ensure “Never Again” becomes a reality and not a tragic repetition. We wish good luck for Mr. Ramasimhan with the release of his film with an authentic story and look forward to watching it in theaters.

Post by a volunteer Vinidra (The Awakened)

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