Today marks the 99th anniversary of the martyrdom of Variamkunnath Kunhahammed Haji, a prominent leader of the Malabar region who fought valiantly against British occupation. He was shot dead by British troops on January 20, 1922.
Born into a wealthy Muslim family in 1866, he grew up hearing stories of the British persecution and injustice against the natives and his own family. His father was deported and imprisoned in the Andaman Islands for fighting the British. A leader of the anti-British struggle of 1921, Variamkunnath Kunhahammad Haji fought against the British army and established an independent princely state, Malayala Rajyam. He was betrayed and sentenced to death by British troops in January 1922 under the guise of a treaty with his two companions.
"You blindfold and shoot from the back. Shoot me from the front, with my eyes untied, and chains removed. The bullets that destroy my life must come and fall on my chest. I have to see it; I want to die with my face close to this land," said Haji before the execution. Haji's death sentence was carried out by British troops, who shot him in the chest without covering his eyes.