Kozhikode: A book released last year by prime miniser Narendra Modi, listing Varian Kunnath Kunjahammed Haji as one among the martyrs in Kerala, has taken the BJP by surprise – and caught them a bit off guard too.
Varian Kunnath is a hero of the Malabar rebellion in early 1920s against the British, and celebrated as a patriot and martyr, but disapproved of by the BJP and Hindutva writers who see in him a leader responsible for the murder of several Hindu landlords of the time.
The BJP camp has consistently taken this stand, opposes any recognition given to the freedom fighter on that basis and fights tooth and nail books and films that depict him in that role.
Now when the news about the content of the book, released in March 2019, hit the social media sparking debates, BJP fellow traveller and film director Ali Akbar has come out with a criticism of the work, released by the central Culture Ministry titled 'Dictionary of Martyrs in India's Freedom struggle (1857-1947) Vol-V'. This volume of the series deals with freedom fighters from the southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The book also contains the name Ali Musliyar, another celebrated religious leader who fought the British, among the freedom fighters. The book, as the title indicates, list those who fought and courted martyrdom in freedom struggle between 1857 and 1947.
Although the book was published by the central government, the data pertaining to Kerala was provided by Kerala government, and not BJP. Ali Akbar in his Facebook said that the Communists and Congressmen of Kerala are those who had given freedom fighters' pension to the 'jihadis' who killed Hindus during the Mappila riots and it should be they who fed the information to the Centre glorifying Varian Kunnan.
Earlier, a film making Varian Kunnan the hero, starred by Malayalam actor Prithviraj, was declared by Ashiq Abu and Hindu Aikyavedi and BJP had come out openly about the cine venture. Another film was also announced by the left-leaning, award-winning film director PT Kunju Muhammed. But soon following this, Ali Akbar came out saying that he was going to make one portraying Varian Kunnan as villain.