This Day in History (17-Oct-1919) – The Khilafat Movement was launched

The Muslims of India had a great regard for the Khilafat (Caliphate) which was held by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). During World War I, Turkey joined the war in favour of Germany and lost the war. During the war, the Indian Muslim’s support to the British Government was subject to the safeguard and protection of the holy places of Turkey. But the British Government could not fulfill the promises. A wave of anger swept across the Muslim World and the Indian Muslims rose against the British Government. Muslim leaders like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Moulana Muhammad Ali Johar, Moulana Shoukat Ali reacted against the British Government policy and were put behind the bars. Thus, Muslims organized a mass movement, which came to be known as Khilafat Movement.

The leaders of Khilafat movement announced the Non Co-operation Movement, the Congress extended its full support to the Khilafat Movement. The leaders of the two met at Amritsar and resolved to launch a country wide agitation under the leadership of Mr. Gandhi.

Muslim ulama issued a verdict and declared India as Dar-ul-Harab (countries where the Muslim law is not in force) and the Muslims therefore needed to migrate to some other country or Dar-ul-Salam (Muslim country). Thousands of families hastily left for Afghanistan, in August 1920. As many as eighteen thousand people marched towards Afghanistan, which was unable to bear the influx of the people. Thus, the Afghan authorities closed their frontiers. Eventually the Muhajarins had to return to their homes.

The Khilafat Movement came to an end when thousands of Indians were put behind the bar. The leaders in spite of their best efforts could not maintain the Hindu-Muslim Unity. One of the main reasons which caused a death blow to Khilafat Movement was the indirect announcement of Gandhiji to discontinue the Non Co-operation Movement due to Chauri Chaura episode.  In 1924, Kamal Ataturk set up a government on democratic basis in Turkey by abolishing Khilafat as a system of government which served a finishing blow to Khilafat Movement in India and people lost whatever interest that they had in the movement.



This Day in History (10-Jul-1806) – The Vellore Mutiny Breaks Out against the British

The Vellore Mutiny was the first large-scale mutiny by Indian soldiers against the British mush before 1857 mutiny. The sepoy dress code was changed in 1805 under which Hindu soldiers were not allowed to wear any kind of religious marks on their foreheads and it was made mandatory for Muslims to shave their beards and trim their moustaches. Further, General Sir John Craddock, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army made it compulsory for all solders to wear a round hat, which was largely associated with Europeans and Christians in place of the turban they had been wearing. It as considered as the beginning of a process of converting them to Christianity, further infuriating the soldiers. The British, on the other hand, made these changes thinking that they would improve the soldiers’ looks. In May 1806, a few soldiers who protested against this change in uniform were sent to Fort St. George where they were both given lashes and either removed from the army or asked to apologize. The rebellions were further instigated by the sons of the deceased Tipu Sultan.

In the early hours of the morning, the sepoys began their attack on Vellore fort and started by killing Colonel Fancourt who was commanding the garrison. Next to be killed was Colonel Me Kerras of the 23rd regiment, following which Major Armstrong was gunned down by the soldiers. Major Cootes who was outside the fort hurried to Ranipet and informed Colonel Gillespie who reached the fort immediately. In the meantime, the rebels had announced Tipu Sultan’s son Futteh Hyder as their new ruler and had hoisted a tiger flag atop the fort. This uprising was brought to an end by Colonel Gillespie. 800 Indian soldiers had died in this mutiny and 600 soldiers were imprisoned in Vellore and Tiruchi. Some rebels were shot dead by the British and some were hanged and eventually the mutiny was brought to an end. Vellore Mutiny failed due to lack of leadership. But it was the starting point of a new era of the resistance of the sepoys to the British rule. Some positive outcome was in terms of Religious interference with the soldiers being done away with and so was flogging of soldiers in the Indian regiment.