Sunday, 15 November 2015

Death of Mr Conolly, murdered by Islamic Insurgents 1855.

The Hill and Barracks at Calicut. 
 The exact date of the photo is unknown, but it probably dates to within a decade of Conolly's death.

With the news today filled with stories about ISIS and the Paris outrage, it brings to mind only too clearly how we are witnessing just one of a centuries long string of events stretching back to the Seventh Century.

In the middle of the 19th Century very similar events were unfolding with the Muslim minority along the coast beginning to reach critical population densities that they could start to take over more and more of the area from the local Hindu population. Throughout the 1840's there had been a series of assassinations of local Hindu landowners and even Nayar labourers.  A sect believed to be called Hal Ilakkam had carried out the outrage.  On 11t December 1843 Anavattatt Soliman and nine others killed Karukamana Govinda Mussat, the adhikari of Pandikad in Walluvanad Taluk, together with his servant while they were bathing. They then attacked and defiled two temples.  A detachment of the 19th Native Regiment under Major Osborne marched from Palghat, towards the location, and into an ambush.

"I moved the detachment at half-past ten in the direction of the house occupied by the murders accompanied by H.D.C. Cook Esq., two tahsildars and peons.  Immediately after filing though the paddy field the murderers rushed upon the column, and in a few minutes were shot, ten in number." [1]

Further incidents occurred in 1849 with substantial forces required from the 39th and 43rd Regiments of Native Infantry making assaults on Hindu Temples that the Mopillas had occupied.  Further flare-ups went on throughout 1851 when many fights with the insurgents took place. [2]

Mr Conolly was heavily involved in these events, but he seems to have been "I wish for the utmost publicity.  If any want of, or mistake in, management on my part has led in the slightest degree to these fearful evils (far more fearful in my time than they have ever been before), I am most desirous that a remedy be applied, whatever be the effect as regards my personal interests.  I have acted to the best of my judgement, but my judgement may be in error, and I should be glad were duly tested.... No measures taken as yet have reached the root of the evil, which there is too much reason to fear is growing in place of decaying."

"For some years past the province of Malabar has been disgraced by a series of outrages of the most heinous character, perpetrated by the Mappilas of the Provinces upon the Hindus of wealth and respectability, murdered them under circumstances the most horrible, burnt houses or given them up to pillage, and finally, wound up their crimes by throwing away their lives in desperate resistance to the police and military."

As is the case today in Brussels, Paris, London and Bedford, the Mappilas were being led and encouraged by radical religious leaders.  In this case, one Saiyid Fazl, an Arab known as Pukoya, or the Tirurangadi or Mambram Tangal.  Fazl had managed by 17th February 1852 to raise between 10,000 and 12,000 supporters at his mosque at Tirurangadi.

The British authorities struggled to come up with a strategy to deal with him.  Mr Strange, the Special Commissioner was asked to decide whether to bring Fazl to trial or to detain him as a state prisoner.  Conolly negotiated with him, and then on the 19th March 1852 sent Fazl and his family back to Arabia.

The outrages however continued, and by 1855 it was being reported "the Hindu's, in the parts where the outbreaks have been most frequent, stand in such fear of the Mappilas as mostly not to dare to press for their rights against them, ad there is many a Mappilla tenant who does not pay his rent, and cannot, so imminent are the risks, be evicted.  Other injuries are also put up with uncomplained."


The following interesting account of this sad event is from a private letter of young Belfast gentleman to his friends here;— "I have little personal news to tell you, but a most melancholy event has occurred since I last wrote, which has thrown gloom over the whole population of Malabar, from which we are only now recovering. I informed you of the escape of four Moplah prisoners from jail, and the fears that were entertained of an outbreak. These men were not re-captured, and the thing was dying out. On the morning of the 11th instant, Mr. Connolly, Collector, had been sitting in his verandah talking to Mrs. C-- , and was just rising to in and read prayers previous to retiring for the night, when these four ruffians rushed in and murdered Mr. Connolly the most brutal manner. They attacked him with their four knives, and the first stroke severed his arm from his body, having him with twenty-seven frightful wounds. Poor Mrs. C ran to her room, and although there were two Peons about the bungalou only one came forward, and he had his arm taken right off at one cut; a servant who came in was served likewise with his fingers. The ruffians escaped, and posted a notice on the cutcherry door, that they were off, and would kill every 'Sahib' they met. Revenge is the motive for this most brutal act—Mr. Connolly having, 14 years ago, sentenced these men to transportation. They were not heard of for two days, when it was discovered that they were in a village at the foot of Oughant and expected to be coming up here. The two Peons at the head of the pass received orders to keep good look out, and to retire on their approach. The Peons being unarmed were in a state of excitement here, as at that time our information was imperfect, and we were j told that there were eighteen men coming up the Ghant. However, we were well prepared to receive them, and could have given good account of them had they only ventured up. The marching out of troops rather surprised them, and they made a quick transit to the heart of the Moplah district, where they perhaps thought they would safe. But no: the authorities traced them sharp, and before they were well sheltered in a house between Coondotty and Murgerry, twenty of the gallant 74th Highlanders rushed forward with the butts of their muskets to the door, and soon revenged poor Connolly's, death, and their own sergeant, who was shot by the Moplahs when coming towards the house. All the European population of Calicut were, of course, in great fear of repetition of this affair, and all assembled in Calicut The judge and second judge received 'notice' that within twelve days they would meet a fate similar to poor Mr. Connolly’s, if they did not leave Malabar. Mr. Connolly had received a similar notice that he and his sheristadar would be murdered if not out of Malabar within twelve days, but, unfortunately, did not take any notice of it as he had received several such before. Strange, he was about leaving this month, he had been appointed a member of Council. It’s sad affair, after toiling in this country for so many years, and when just about enjoying at home the society of his family and his numerous friends, to be thus cut off! The high estimation in which was held was amply testified his funeral. Government will now take some active steps against these revengeful Moplahs, since one of their highest servants, next to the governor, has been thus brutally murdered. We have large bodies of Peons along the Calicut road, and Mr-- has arrested a number of Mops who harboured and protected the runaways. A company of the Queen’s 74th is quartered in Calicut. There are many other strange facts connected with this affair that cannot be accounted for, and therefore there is want of confidence among the population, both European and native, and a great distrust of Moplahs.”

Belfast Mercury - Monday 26 November 1855

The assassination had been carried on by Valasseri Emalu, Puliyakunat Tenu, Chemban Moidin Kutti and Vellattadayatta Parambil Moidin, who had escaped from a working party of jail convicts at Calicut.

The assassins evaded the Calicut authorities and retreated to a Mosque at Morar, eight miles north-west of Manjeri.

A detachment of Major Haly's Police Corps and part of No  Company of the  74th Highlanders under Captain Davies came up to the location.

"The positionof the Mappilas was a most difficult one, consisting of gardens surrounded by ditches.  After some practice with the mortar and howitzer, the troops charged into the gardens, and after turning the Mappilas out of one house, the offenders retreated to a stronger one, which they barricaded; the outer door of this garden was on the edge of a deep nullah; this door was first forced, and the troops were in the act of firing the house when the Mappilas threw open the door and rushed out upon the troops, and were, of course, quickly disposed of.  It was quite impossible, I consider, to have secured them alive, though injunctions had been given to do so if possible.  The men of the new Police Corps emulated the Europeans in their steadiness, and were equally to the front at the last charge.  I have, though with great regret, to report that one European was killed by a shot from the house, and another very dangerously wounded by a cut on the throat whilst one of the Mappilas was on his bayonet."

A major security operation got under way and over 300 Moplahs were soon rounded up for questioning. Sub-Collector Collett.

By the 16th of January the Bombay newspapers were announcing that "At Calicut the Sub Collector, Mr Collett, has well nigh completed his investigation regarding Mr Connolly's Murder."

Mr Conolly had been a reformer, and had spent much of his life in Malabar. When he arrived he found a landscape where most of the existing Teak forest had been cut down and extracted in the previous decades. He undertook experiments into the propagation of Teak trees,  which was technically very difficult to achieve. He was successful in establishing nurseries for growing Teak seedings and established many new Teak plantations.

The troubles died down for a few years but there were further incidents in 1857, 1858 & 1864. With the advent of the Indian Mutiny the local authorities became stronger in their surveillance of the Muslims.  The situation has remained difficult ever since, and my Hindu driver was noticeably reluctant to drive through some villages inland of Tellicherry citing recent events where Hindu's had been attacked when their vehicles had been pulled over by mobs.  We witnessed demonstrations in the streets at Beypore run by Islamic Groups.

We need to understand that the events in Europe today are only the continuation of a 1500 year process, whereby the Islamic fundamentalists use a tried and tested strategy to try to undermine and subvert our communities.

[1] William Logan's Malabar Manual, vol 1, page 559.
[2] Logan page 560 to 566.


Kallivalli said...

Title: "English barracks in Malaparambu."
Creator: unknown
Date: 01.01.1896-31.12.1914

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