Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji
The legend of Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji, the brave freedom fighter who stood up to the British in Kerala’s Malabar region in early 20th century and even established a short-lived regime of his own, is all set to be portrayed on the silver screen.
Who is Kunjahammed Haji?
- Kunjahammed Haji is an important figure in the echelons of Kerala’s colonial history as a rebel leader who took on the mighty British Raj.
- He was born into an affluent Muslim family sometime in the 1870s, and grew up hearing stories of the torture and injustice meted out by the British to the locals and to his own family.
- His father, Moideenkutty Haji, was deported and jailed in the Andaman Islands for his participation in a rebellion against the British. Such personal incidents, very early on in his life, played an important role in lighting the fire of vengeance inside Kunjahammed.
Struggle against British Raj –
- An interesting facet in Haji’s early life was his fascination with traditional music-based art forms like Daffumutt and poems like ‘Malappuram Padappattu’ and ‘Badr Padappattu’ and how he used art as an instrument to rally the locals against the British.
- By invoking such poems, that spoke of the exploitation of the peasants by feudal lords under the British and which were later banned by them, Kunjahammed Haji was simultaneously challenging the British and igniting sentiments against them among the local population.
- These acts were a continuation of a stream of anger that had begun to strengthen against the colonialists and which is believed to have resulted in the Malabar uprising in 1921.
Khilafat struggle –
- During a meeting in Manjeri, Kattilassery Muhammad Musaliyar and MP Narayana Menon, leaders of Khilafat movement and the Indian National Congress, introduced him to the Khilafat cause, “though he thought that it was a Turkish question”. However, he promised to join with them against the atrocities of the British and the landlords.
- As the rebellion helmed by the Haji and others began to spread across the Ernad and Valluvanad taluks of erstwhile Malabar district, British officers and the local police loyal to them escaped, leaving vast tracts of territory firmly under the control of the local rebels. The territory was declared an ‘independent state’ in August 1921 with Haji its undisputed ruler.
- For nearly six months, Haji ran a parallel Khilafat regime headquartered in Nilambur, with even its own separate passport, currency and system of taxation. During the time, an extensive army with the participation of Hindu men was built with the express aim of thwarting any attempt by the British to overthrow the Khilafat rule. Tenants were granted the power over the lands they cultivated along with tax incentives.
- But the rule did not last long. In January 1922, under the guise of a treaty, the British betrayed Haji through his close friend Unyan Musaliyar, arresting him from his hideout and producing him before a British judge. He was sentenced to death along with his compatriots.
Recently, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ordered the arrest of a Kolkata-based political commentator who had described Chaolung Sukapha as a “Chinese invader”.
Who was Chaolung Sukapha?
- Sukapha was a 13th-century ruler who founded the Ahom kingdom that ruled Assam for six centuries. Contemporary scholars trace his roots to Burma.
- Sukapha was a leader of the Ahoms. He reached Brahmaputra valley in Assam from upper Burma in the 13th century with around 9,000 followers.
- Sukapha is said to have left a place called Maulung in AD 1215 with eight nobles and 9,000 men, women and children — mostly men. He had with him two elephants, and 300 horses. In 1235, Sukapha and his people settled in Charaideo in upper Assam after wandering about for years, defeating those who protested his advance, and temporarily staying at different locations.
- It was in Charaideo that Sukapha established his first small principality, sowing the seeds of further expansion of the Ahom kingdom.
Who are the Ahoms today?
- Ahoms or or Tai-Ahom is an ethnic group found today in the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion. Over the centuries, the Ahoms accepted the Hindu religion and the Assamese language.
- The Ahoms embraced the language, religion and rituals of the communities living here — they did not impose theirs on those living here.
- Most of those who came with Sukapha were men. The men later married women from communities living in Assam. Today, the Ahom community is estimated to number between 4 million and 5 million.
- Sukapha developed very amiable relationships with the tribal communities living here — especially the Sutias, the Morans and the Kacharis. Intermarriage also increased assimilation processes.
Why is Sukapha important?
- Sukapha’s significance — especially in today’s Assam — lies in his successful efforts towards assimilation of different communities and tribes. He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”.
- Sukapha and his people could consolidate power, culture and religion in the region in a manner which brought a diverse mix of jati and janajatis (multiple tribes and communities) together who at different points of history offered their allegiance to the Ahom kings… For this very reason that the Ahoms managed to group a diverse mix of people in such a politically sensitive region criss-crossing South Asia and South-East Asia, the first Ahom King Sukapha is hailed as an architect of Bor (larger) Assam in popular culture.
- To commemorate Sukapha and his rule, Assam celebrates “Asom Divas” on December 2 every year.
Secrecy of Ballot
Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections, the choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it, the Supreme Court has held in a judgement.
What is ‘secrecy of ballot’?
- It is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election are anonymous, forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.
- Section 94 of the Representation of People Act upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.
- However, a voter can also voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure. The privilege ends when the voter decides to waive the privilege and instead volunteers to disclose as to whom she had voted.
- The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in a zila panchayat in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.
- The High Court had found that some of the panchayat members had violated the rule of secrecy of ballot. It relied on CCTV footage to conclude that they had either displayed the ballot papers or by their conduct revealed the manner in which they had voted.
Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism
Indian officials have attended the virtual 32nd special Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) plenary meeting, under the aegis of the Financial Action Task Force.
Prelims Facts –
- The EAG is a regional body comprising nine countries – India, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus.
- It is an associate member of the FATF.