Article: When History is Held Hostage: Commemorating the Continuing Sufferings of the Mappila Martyrs of 1921

Muhammad Niyas Ashraf

When, in the last week of August, the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) decided to remove the names of 387 Mappila martyrs from the list of honour in the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, 1857-1947, it was not the first time that the Mappila uprising of 1921, popularly known as the Malabar rebellion, had grabbed the headlines of the national dailies and became a politically contested and polarising event.

The ICHR’s announcement in fact was the culmination of years of controversy sparked by right-wing activists who maintain that the Mappila uprising had not been an anti-colonial rebellion at all, but had aimed instead to establish an Islamic state in India.

While it is true that religion had a part to play in the 1921 rebellion, the causes of the Mappila outbreaks (there had been as many as 35 serious ones between 1849 and 1921) were far more profound and predominantly agrarian in nature. This movement, in fact, registered the protest and resistance of the rural poor to acts of oppression and exploitation perpetrated by feudal landlords and the British colonial state, which was why the 387 martyrs of the rebellion were included in the dictionary in the first place. To remove them from the list would be to reduce the event to the level of a large-scale communal riot – as had served the divide and rule purpose of the colonial British government in India at that time.

The Dictionary of Martyrs

The main objective of the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, 1857-1947, in which the professional historians associated with the ICHR and the Union Ministry of Culture have identified and listed 14,000 martyrs of the anti-colonial struggle between 1857 and 1947, is to bring to the attention of the wider Indian public the unsung heroes who decided to accept suffering and possibly death for the larger cause of Indian independence.

In his editor’s note for Volume IV of the dictionary, Arvind P. Jamkhedkar, the present chairperson of the ICHR, wrote: “Our objective in the project has always been to try as best as we can in covering martyrs belonging to all the categories of Indian society, and to bring into focus not only the known, but also the barely known, the obscure and the forgotten (especially from the lower rungs of society), and enlist them into liberated India’s roll of honour.”

Thus, the five volumes of the dictionary indicate precise sources of historical data to establish their authenticity. Each entry provides a brief biographical history of the martyr concerned, based to the extent possible on authentic archival and other contemporary documents. Each entry tries to show that the martyr’s decision was made explicitly rather than impulsively and that the martyr fully understood the gravity of the consequences of her or his actions. By accepting suffering, the martyr could not act aggressively or respond to aggression, but was ready and willing to die for a set of ideological or political beliefs.

The recording of the martyrs’ sufferings and deaths is meant to become part of the country’s collective memory and give meaning to the past. The primary sources that each entry depends on are the dynamics of the authority and authenticity that govern this memory work. The methodology followed by the research assistants in this project builds a relationship between knowledge built upon collective memory and historical experience. The Dictionary of Martyrs has included as many names as possible of people who participated in various movements, organisations, and incidents during the Indian independence movement.

The project had been initiated in 2007 by the national implementation committee in charge of organising celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the 1857 uprising and 60 years of India’s independence, which had wanted a compilation of a ‘national register of martyrs’. The ICHR accepted the project and necessary funds at the request of the Union Ministry of Culture and the advisory committee, comprising historians and representatives of the Union Ministry of Culture and the National Archives of India, decided that the project would produce a series of volumes entitled Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, 1857-1947.

The committee also accepted for the purpose of this project the definition of the term ‘martyr’ that the Government of India had adopted in 1980 to facilitate the distribution of awards and pensions. A martyr, according to this definition, is a person who died or was killed in action or detention or was awarded capital punishment while participating in a national movement for India’s emancipation, including ex-Indian National Army or ex-military personnel who died fighting the British.

The search for sources

Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a prominent historian at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi from 1976 to 2003, and the author of significant historical monographs, was the then chairperson of the ICHR. He showed the gaps that existed in the biographical dictionaries of martyrs that had been published on the occasion of the Mahatma Gandhi centenary celebrations by the Union Ministry of Education. This compilation of the Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs published in 1969, 1972 and 1973 under the editorship of Dr P.N. Chopra defined the term ‘martyr’ as a patriot who was hanged or killed in the struggle for freedom.

Gaps also existed in the biographical dictionaries or lists of martyrs published by state governments to commemorate events in the freedom struggle. For example, in 1975, Karunakaran Nair edited a 625-page monograph titled Who is Who of Freedom Fighters in Kerala. Most of these publications lacked authenticity because of the absence of primary sources relating to the martyr’s contribution to or sacrifices for the freedom movement.

The ICHR’s Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, 1857-1947, on the other hand, utilises primary sources such as archival and other contemporary documents, which are listed at the end of each biographical note as references.

Considering the massive extent of the project, after the publication of Volume I, Part 1, Bhattacharya and the central advisory committee decided to engage a research consultant for the project, Professor Amit Kumar Gupta (who passed away in July 2021), a leading historian who documented various episodes of peasant resistances and various freedom movements in his books, 2015’s Nineteenth-Century Colonialism and the Great Indian Revolt and The Agrarian Drama: The Leftists and the Rural Poor in India, 1934-1951, published in 1996. His vast experience and ability to guide the research proved invaluable. He asked the research team to strictly follow the historical methodology of carefully reading primary sources to obtain sufficient details on every historical movement.

To write about the martyrs and to authenticate their martyrdom from primary sources (including archival documents, official and non-official), the research team, including myself, undertook various trips to different state archives over and above its regular visits to the National Archives of India and the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, New Delhi.

For the entries from Kerala, the research team visited the Tamil Nadu State Archives in Chennai, the Calicut State Archives and the Thiruvananthapuram State Archives to gather the information necessary for establishing identities, viz. name, date of birth or age at the time of martyrdom, place of birth or residence. Since caste identities feature in almost all 19th century records, this is also included in the entries on the martyrs. All these data are followed by a summary of the available information on the individual’s participation in the freedom struggle and the course of events leading to her or his death or martyrdom. Scholars can thus follow up the references to the archival data.

While doing the archival work for the martyrs from Kerala, especially to identify the martyrs of the Mappila outbreaks between 1849 and 1921 and the Punnapra-Vayalar movement of 1946, the research team studied a variety of primary sources. These included the fortnightly reports sent by the colonial officials or collector of Malabar to the governor-general of British India or his imperial agents in then Madras, generally about local conflicts; the political and foreign files of the home department; the proceedings of the judicial department, consisting of records related to criminal trials and judicial decisions in matters before a particular court or details of a sentenced prisoner and his death; and native newspaper reports consisting of weekly typewritten abstracts taken from a wide variety of Indian newspapers with some extracts translated by an official translator divided into foreign politics, home administration, police, working of the courts, jails and so on, from the Tamil Nadu State Archives.

The research team also consulted the Proceedings of the Home Political Department files from the National Archives of India, the Malabar Collectorate Records, police files, political (home) files from the Kerala State Archives in Kozhikode and freedom movement files in the Kerala State Archives in Thiruvananthapuram. Most of Kerala’s entries in the Dictionary of Martyrs are based on primary sources, allowing those who are not satisfied with the brief biographical notes in the volumes of the project to gather more information.

Moreover, before the publication of each volume of the Dictionary of Martyrs, two experts undertook the arduous task of reading it meticulously, suggesting improvements and adding a few more names. The research team also consulted secondary sources to cross-check and authenticate the data regarding primary sources whenever possible. For example, here is an entry from Volume V of the Dictionary of Martyrs: Appankollan Moideen: Resident of Pandikadamsom, taluk Ernad, Malabar, Kerala. He was involved in an armed confrontation in his village with the British during the Malabar rebellion of 1921-22 and coinciding with the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movement. In the ensuing clash between the fully armed 2/8th Gurkha Rifles and the scarcely armed 2000 Mappila rebels on 14 November 1921 in Pandikad, about 234 unyielding Mappilas were believed, by the Colonel Commandant, to have perished. Moideen was one among those who died on the 14 November 1921 firing by the British troops. [H/ Poll, 1921, F. No. 241, Part 1-A, NAI; PPRM (K.N Panikkar (ed), Peasants Protest and Revolts in Malabar), pp. 372-74].

More than 500 martyrs from Kerala were included in the dictionary by Professor Shobhanan of the history department, University of Kerala, the regional coordinator from Kerala in the initial stage of the dictionary, together with the research team I was part of. We focused on the obscured, the undiscovered and the forgotten (especially from the lower strata of society) in the annals of India’s freedom struggle and thus each martyr’s inscribed transmission and sufferings has become a memorial, conveyed and sustained through this dictionary, enhancing the nation’s collective memory.

Possibilities of controversy

In the editor’s note in the introductory volume of the Dictionary of Martyrs, Bhattacharya informed the readers that various research details may lead to controversies. He wrote: “The question of inclusion or exclusion of some individuals may itself be a subject of controversy. Our decision was to make this compilation as inclusive as possible. Moreover, the primary sources we have depended upon may contain errors of facts or interpretation; the inherent bias in the British Indian government’s records is too obvious a thing to elaborate upon. In this collection of data, an effort has been made to overcome such data limitations.”

With all these risks in mind, the research team consulted archival sources in several regional archives across India and scrutinised thousands of files relating to the participants and proceedings of various anti-colonial and anti-feudal movements that had not previously been explored or consulted on a larger scale to identify as many of those as possible who gave up their lives in the widespread popular struggle between 1857 and 1947 to win the country’s freedom. The martyrs in the dictionary have all participated in an anti-colonial movement or social protest even if these were of a purely local or sectional nature, taking place within the narrow grooves of the collective self-awareness of a tribe, caste, or religious sect. This voluminous research has provided a comprehensive view of the nation-formation movement, particularly the development of the national freedom movement and the regional variations that allowed the independence struggle to be mobilised for further emotional integration, unity, and political advantages.

The pan-Indian work that went into the dictionary shows how India’s plural society advanced against the imperialist assertion in ways that carried a national consciousness. In this endeavour, the research team telescopically covered the ubiquitous participation of almost all the segments of Indian society in the freedom movement.

The sufferings of unknown martyrs in jails, especially with diseases and police brutality, were given ample consideration in the dictionary. For example, in volume V:

Ammankallan Viran Kutty: Resident of Iruveethiamsom, distt. Malappuram, Kerala, he was taken into custody in connection with the Malabar rebellion of 1921 against the combination of the British colonial authorities and the exploitative Jenmis, and coinciding with the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movement. He was detained on 5 May 1922 as an under-trial prisoner and kept in the Manjeri Sub-Jail. Together with brutal police tortures, and a serious attack of pneumonia in the jail (due to very bad sanitary conditions, overcrowding and insufficiency of clean water and food), Viran Kutty died on 25 May 1922 in detention at the age of 30. [Pub Deptt, G.O. (MS) No. 960, 20.11.1922, TNSAC].

Limited perspectives

Despite the laborious work put in by the research team, right-wing activists have attempted to reduce the public perspective of the Mappila Uprisings of 1921-22 into the limited viewpoint of religion.

In September 2020, when a Malayalam film project on Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, a prominent Mappila leader who led the outbreak, was announced, right-wing groups announced that they would oppose the endeavours to eulogise Haji and the uprising with a year-long campaign to expose the rebellion’s ‘anti-Hindu’ aspects.

Two years earlier, the Indian Railways was forced to remove a painting of the 1921 Mappila uprising from Tirur station in Kerala when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) protested against it.

This August, the Union Ministry of Culture withdrew the fifth volume of the Dictionary of Martyrs after right-wing groups, including the Hindu Aikya Vedi (a Kerala-based organisation), alleged that the aim of the Malabar Rebellion was the establishment of an ‘Islamic state’ and demanded the withdrawal of the entries covering the rebellion’s leaders, Variyankunnathu Kunjahammad Haji and Ali Musliyar, from the martyrs’ dictionary. A.P. Abdullahkutty, the national vice president of the BJP, said that Variyankunnathu Haji had been the ‘first head of the Taliban in Kerala’ and referred to the 1921 anti-colonial Mappila uprisings as the ‘Moplah Massacre’. Similarly, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Ram Madhav called this anti-colonial movement ‘the first manifestation of the Taliban mindset’ in Kerala and Kummanam Rajasekharan, the former state president of the BJP, said that the rebellion had been a campaign of jihād that had murdered thousands of Hindus, sexually abused Hindu women and desecrated Hindu temples.

At the same time, following the argument of the Muslim reformer Makti Tangal (1847-1912), who, according to an unpublished University of Delhi thesis by Muhammed Niyas Ashraf titled Islamic Modernity and Reform in Colonial Kerala: Reading Makti Taṅṅaḷ, had criticised the 19th century Mappila outbreaks as being detrimental to Muslim educational progress, the Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema, a body of Muslim Sunni scholars in Kerala, denounced the Mappila uprising during the centenary celebrations of the 1921 revolt as a feckless effort that pushed back the Muslim community by 100 years.

Such hesitancy to consider the heroic efforts of the Mappilas in the country’s freedom struggle coupled with critical statements and writings that demonise a particular Muslim community largely serve the purpose of colonialists who worked hard to divide Indians based on religion and caste. This debate on martyrs, the status of their martyrdom and the mistrust of their religious identity that we are now witnessing is not an attempt to politicise history but instead an attempt to make history hostage to agenda-driven politics.

However, in the wake of the centenary celebration of the 1921 Mappila uprising in 2021, this controversy can and should influence historians and social scientists to study the manifold nature of the movement and the sacrifices made by the Mappila freedom fighters and bring this information into the public sphere. Rather than research the 1921 uprising as the culmination of a few events, emerging academics and intellectuals can situate the Mappila uprising not only in the broader canvas of the freedom struggle, especially the non-cooperation and Khilafat movements which were the pivotal motif of 1921, but with multi-layered narratives from subaltern histories with manifold manifestations. We can locate such layered stories and multiple strands in a few post-colonial scholarships from different schools of historical thought, such as those by Conrad Wood, Robert Hardgrave, D.N. Dhanagare, Ranajit Guha, K.N. Panikkar, Gangadhara Menon and M.T. Ansari, that view the revolt as an anti-colonial uprising and challenge the simplistic narrations that depict the 1921 revolt as a widespread communal riot.

The 1921 Mappila Uprising

In itself, the pathetic condition of the poverty-stricken cultivator of south Malabar was a direct provocation for the 35 Mappila outbreaks that took place between 1849 and 1921. Even the British administrators of Malabar, such as William Logan, the Malabar collector, in 1884 and C.A. Innés, a settlement officer in Malabar, in 1913, had realised the growing dangers of agrarian trouble and had strongly urged the adoption of land reforms. But nothing had been done to improve the situation. Therefore, it is not surprising that as late as 1919, disorders in Malabar were being sparked off by agrarian disputes, according to a news report published in The Hindu of February 13, 1919.

The uprising of 1921-22 was no exception.The contemporary opinion, especially found in colonial records such as the legislative assembly debates, India Office records and private papers, almost shyly admitted that the convulsion was due to the agrarian grievances of tenant farmers against the janmis or landlords. Even the viceroy of India, Lord Reading, who believed that the Khilafat propaganda of the time was the leading cause of the ‘rebellion’, considered agrarian discontent as a ‘predisposing factor’ and opened a correspondence with the governor of Madras, Lord Willingdon, to examine the question of tenancy law reform which he thought was desirable in the interest of the future peace of Malabar.

“We have in regard to Malabar,” Reading wrote to Willingdon in a letter maintained in the India Office Records, “to aim not merely the restoration of order but also at the conversion of the Moplahs into peaceful and loyal citizens, and it may be that agrarian reform would be a powerful influence in this direction.”

It is fair to argue that if the outbreak had not been agrarian in nature, the Mappilas from the comparatively better-off parts of Malabar would not have remained aloof or sided with the government. In his pathbreaking work Against Lord and State, K.N. Panikkar writes: “Peasantry in Malabar lived and worked in conditions of extreme penury entailed by the twin exactions of the lord and the State.”

But though the agrarian grievances were the underlying factor, other contributory causes had combined to produce the eruption: a perceived threat to Islam, inflammatory newspaper reports, provocation by government officials and police were all factors, but the Khilafat and non-cooperation movements acted as a catalyst, according to The Moplah Rebellion of 1921-22 and Its Genesis, the published PhD thesis of historian Conrad Wood.

As with previous occasions of Mappila outbreaks, an attempt was made by the colonial narratives and post-colonial Western scholarships to present the 1921-22 rebellion as a violent expression of pure religious fanaticism; an organised Khilafat-Congress rebellion ‘to upset the British Raj’ and essentially an anti- Hindu outbreak, as seen in reports in the Madras Mail of August 22 and 30, 1921, and memos between Willingdon, the governor of Madras and Edwin Montagu, the secretary of state for India and Burma. Agrarian discontent was simply dismissed as a ‘myth’, according to John J. Banninga in his despatch, The Moplah Rebellion of 1921, published in the October 1923 edition of The Moslem World. However, recent subaltern scholarship’s deeper acquaintance with the subject shows that religion was only a channel through which the discontent found an escape.

The outbreak was the manifestation of deliberate political action within the ambit of the Khilafat-non-cooperation propaganda that heightened the religious feelings of the Mappilas, who were naturally drawn into the agitation. The Mappilas began to be attracted to the Khilafat movement in April 1920 after a conference at Manjeri, according to Robert L. Hardgrave Jr in his The Mappila Rebellion, 1921: Peasant Revolt in Malabar, and by June, a Khilafat committee had started directing the action in Malabar. By the following year, nearly 200 committees were working under both Muslim and Hindu leaders. Then in September, Shaukat Ali, accompanied by Mahatma Gandhi, descended on Malabar on a propaganda tour, according to Banninga.

Gandhi viewed the Khilafat as an ‘opportunity of uniting Hindu and Muslim as would not arise in hundred years’. When the Khilafat question was discussed in a joint conference of Hindus and Muslims on September 24, 1920, Gandhi attended and chaired the meeting. He advocated non-cooperation to redress Khilafat grievances, agrarian discontent and economic issues in Malabar, which meant that the arbitrary exactions of the Hindu ‘upper caste’ landlords and the oppressive government increases in the land tax were exploited in this meeting along with religious grievances.

When the Congress-Khilafat leadership stated in two public meetings that it was their spiritual and national duty to fight against British imperialism, the Mappilas were motivated to participate in the movement, according to R.H. Hitchcock in A History of the Malabar Rebellion, 1921, which was published in 1925. M.P. Narayana Menon, a prominent Khilafat leader who was later tried for his part in the outbreak, was reported in the Madras Mail of July 28, 1922, to have declared at a meeting: “The British Government is at an end, the British Government has no troops. If the Moplahs remain united, they can easily overthrow the present Government and establish a Khilafat rule instead; all should be prepared to sacrifice their lives for the Khilafat cause.”

By the end of 1920, the Khilafat organisation and the non-cooperation movement were widely spread in Malabar and attracted Muslims in large numbers. In midsummer came the fateful resolutions of the all-India Khilafat Conference at Karachi proposing the establishment of an Indian republic, which gave the Mappilas the belief that the end of the British Raj was at hand, according to C. Gopalan Nair in The Moplah Rebellion, 1921, which was published in 1923. The sparks that kindled the flame of the Mappila uprising were provided by several other Mappila Khilafatists on August 20, 1921, according to Hitchcock, with the attempt of the colonial government to arrest some Khilafat leaders at Tirurangadi, including Ali Musliyar (1861-1922) against whom the authorities seemed to hold a grudge, the torture and humiliations of several Mappila families, the assault of the police on those who wore Gandhi caps at Tirurangadi, the dishonour of the Khilafat flags and the persecution of Khilafat workers, according to G.R.F. Tottenham in The Mapilla Rebellion, 1921-22, which was published in 1922.

The Tirurangadi arrests, coming as they did after prolonged and grave police provocations, let loose the pent-up Mappila feelings and sporadic violence began to take place in the taluks of Ernad, Walluvanad, and Ponnani, fully supported by the Khilafat movement. Gangadhara Menon, referring to the mutual dependence of the Khilafat and tenancy movements in Malabar in his 1989 book Malabar Rebellion (1921-22), noted that “Most tenants in Taluks of Emad and Walluvanad being Mappilas, the tenants’ agitation was animated by the Khilafat spirit.”

The fury of the Mappilas was first directed against European and Indian officials and Hindu janmis and money-lenders who they identified as their oppressors. It then turned on ‘upper caste’ Hindus in general as reprisals for betraying their cause and assisting the authorities in suppressing the ‘rebellion’. Besides, the majority of the police force was Hindu and the oppression to which the Mappilas had been subjected naturally turned them against the policemen’s co-religionists. Mappila loyalists of the government also became frequent targets. The rioters attacked the military and the police, burnt and looted government and private property, pillaged Manas and Kovilagams (‘upper caste’ households), destroyed revenue records and obstructed communications, according to the parliament papers of 1921. They brought the civil administration to a virtual standstill.

The uprising began on August 20, 1921, and lasted for six months. It took a further six months to establish peace and order in the areas of rebellion. The Mappilas ran an indigenous government of their own and kept up the spirit of revolt among Muslim peasants for a much longer period than anyone thought they could. The government suppressed the ‘rebellion’ with the help of Gurkha troops and the imposition of martial law, according to a report in the Madras Mail of March 23, 1923, that lasted for six months until the outbreak finally collapsed with the capture and execution on January 6, 1922, of Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, although the last of the leaders, according to Hitchcock, was not captured until towards the end of August 1922. This was the most serious rebellion that the British had had to face since the 1857 struggle for freedom.

According to official sources including memos between the secretary of state and the viceroy, the final death toll of the 1921 uprising was 2,337 rebels killed, 1,652 wounded, and 45,404 imprisoned. Unofficial sources put the figures at about 10,000 dead with 252 executions, 50,000 imprisoned, 20,000 exiled and 10,000 missing, along with hundreds of deaths in police confinement and losses in armed skirmishes, according to Roland E. Miller in his 1976 book, Mappila Muslims of Kerala: A Study in Islamic Trends.

Especially brutal was the transportation of Mappila prisoners in goods trains. On one occasion detailed in memos between the secretary of state and the viceroy, 64 out of 100 prisoners died through asphyxiation, heat, and exhaustion in an ill-ventilated 18x 9 x 7.5 feet wagon. Later on, according to the legislative assembly debates of 1923, the British state  updated the mortality during the outbreak as 2,339 Mappilas’ deaths, 1,652 wounded, 5,955 captured and 39,348 surrendered to the military or the police. The number of prisoners in jails in April 1923 was 45,404 and 7,900 rebels were sent to the islands of the Andamans. These 7,900 were largely ignored in the popular memory of the Indian freedom struggle.

Most of those who lost their lives in this struggle are unknown Mappilas. Hence, the main objective of the biographical entries on the Mappila martyrs in the fifth volume of the Dictionary of Martyrs was to bring to the attention of the wider Indian public the lesser-known Mappila martyrs.

Threats to historical discipline

The inclusion of the Mappila martyrs of 1921 in the Dictionary of Martyrs was an attempt to present the voices of unknown martyrs to the general Indian public. The religion or other identities of the martyrs were never the focus. These biographical entries mention the contributions of the martyrs and record their struggle without associating them with any ideology or political agendas. The primary motive of the dictionary is to demonstrate the sacrifice and sufferings of local, subaltern, and unknown martyrs by indicating that each martyr had her or his own agency in delivering her or his sacrifice to the Indian public.

Historians and social scientists have shown that the word ‘martyrdom’ has powerful emotional, political and social connotations. While we can’t ignore the fact that any account of martyrdom during the freedom movement is bound to be selective, should the thousands of Mappilas killed during the Indian independence movement be described as heroes or martyrs or both?

In questioning martyrdom, we ask: who is a martyr? For some, martyrs and martyrdom are objective empirical realities that can be studied in isolation. For others, they are primarily created by later communities and entirely dependent on the socio-political context of their deaths, especially in the evaluation of the circumstances in which they sacrificed their lives and how they became some significant memories of the community.

However, the current controversies regarding the Mappila martyrs display the threats that both martyrs and historical discipline face from a kind of politics that stands closer to the colonial government than to the freedom movement. Erasing any of these martyrs and their sufferings and experiences in the anti-colonial/anti-feudal movement, agrarian discontent and police brutality would result in an incomplete, biased portrayal of the event with the possibility of historical distortions. Moreover, a singular Hindu victimhood narrative is futile, but critical and multiple histories of the uprisings are compelling and expected to be accomplished with scholarly engagement.

Muhammad Niyas Ashraf was the research/editorial assistant (2014-15) in the Indian Council of Historical Research project Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, 1857-1947, who collected and compiled the list of Mappila Martyrs in Volume V. He is now a doctoral fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

Courtesy The Wire