Social Scientist. v 3, no. 25 (Aug 1974) p. 5.


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CONRAD WOOD

Historical Background of the Moplah Rebellion: Outbreaks, 18^6-igig

THE violence periodically manifested during the nineteenth century by the Moplahs was a perpetual source of horrified fascination for British officials in the Madras Presidency. One of them described it as "not mere riots or affrays, but murderous outrages, such as have no parallel in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions." 1

Characteristically, the preparations for an 'outbreak5 involved the intending participants donning the white clothes of the martyr, divorcing their wives, asking those they felt they had wronged for forgiveness and receiving the blessing of a Thangal, as the Sayyids or descendants of the Prophet are called in Malabar, for the success of their great undertaking.

Once the outbreak had been initiated openly, by the murder of their Hindu victim, the participants would await the arrival of government forces by ranging the countryside paying off old scores against Hindus they felt had wronged them, burning and defiling Hindu temples, taking what food they needed and collecting arms and recruits.

Finally, as the government forces closed in on them, a sturdv building was chosen for the last stand. Often the mansion of some Hindu landlord (frequently the residence of one of their victims) was selected, but temples, mo^ues, and other buildings were also used, the main purpose being apparently to avoid being captured alive. As a Moplah captured



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