Mooshaka Kings and Kolathiris:
It was in the ninth century AD the second line of the Chera emperors was established and ruled till 1102 AD. By the 14th century A.D., the old Mooshaka kingdom was reckoned as Kolathunad and the rulers were known as Kolathiris. Kolathiris, made their presence felt quite colossally in the northern Kerala.
Vasco Da Gamma:
When in May 1498, Vasco Da Gamma, the famous Portuguese navigator, came to India he did not visit Kannur. But he established some contacts with the Kolathiri ruler. When his ships left Kozhikkode on August 29, 1498, Gama was invited by Kolathiri to visit the palace. The aim of the Kolathiri was to gain wealth and power with the help of the Portuguese in the same way the Zamorin had acquired with the help of the Arabs. Vasco Da Gamma, in turn, had successfully exploited the jealousies of the native princes and won for the Portuguese a virtual monopoly of the pepper trade.
Francisco De Alameda was sent from Portugal with specific instructions to put up forts at strategic points. With a view to this he started constructing the Kannur Fort in 1505 named it as St. Angelo.
On March 16, 1506, the Portuguese effectively grabbed an armada of Turks and Arabs, whom the Zamorin had launched against Kannur. The Portuguese navy under Lorenzo Almedia engaged the Zamorin's fleet in battle and the Portuguese ships won a decisive victory. This naval victory resulted in the establishment of Portuguese naval supremacy in the Indian seas.
An important political development, which took place at this point in time, was the alliance between the Kolathiri and the Zamorin who were enemies before that. The Zamorin was able to convince the Kolathiri and made him understand about the motives of the Portuguese. He also warned about the intrinsic dangers in his policy of befriending them.
The Portuguese followed a policy of religious persecution and forceful conversion. They therefore clashed with most of the native princes and chieftains. In 1558, the Kolathiri came openly into the field against the Portuguese by providing active support to the Kunjali Marrikkars of Kozhikkode. In 1564, the Kolathiri and the Zamorin fought a common war against the Portuguese and they attacked the fort of St.Angelo at Kannur. But the Portuguese continued to maintain an uncertain foothold at Kannur till 1663 when the Dutch captured the fort in February that year.
Arrival of the East India Company:
At the end of 17th century the English East India Company got its first foothold in the district. This happened when it acquired a site at Thalassery for the manufacture of a fort and a factory.
The integration of the Kolathiri's territory started in the latter half of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century following dissensions in the royal family by the extensive surrender of territory to consorts of the ruling members.
In spite of the difficulties it faced in the initial stages, the trade of the English East India Company prospered during the latter part of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. It has happened because of their liberal trade policies. Further, contrasting the Portuguese, they refused to interfere in the religious and caste affairs of the local population.
In 1725, the French captured Mayyazhi and renamed it as Mahe in honor of the French captain Francois Mahe De Labourdonnais.
In the second half of the 18th century two Muslim rulers, Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan conquered Mysore. Haidar Ali also conquered Malabar in 1773.
In January 1788, Tipu Sultan came down to Kerala with a large army and founded a new capital at Feroke for his Malabar province.
On February 22 and March 18, 1792 the treaties of Srirangapatanam was signed and by which he formally gave Malabar to the British.
The British entered into agreements with the rajas of Chirakkal, Kottayam and Kadathanand and all of them acknowledged the Company.
The British Government divided the province of Malabar into two administrative divisions -the Northern and Southern. The headquarters of the chief magistrate was at Kozhikkode at that time.
While the British were busy with the political settlement of the district, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the Padinjare Kovilakom of the Kottayam family headed a serious revolt. The effective cause of the revolt was the unpopular revenue policy followed by the East India Company in Malabar. He stopped all collections of revenue in Kottayam. The Raja further threatened to cut down all the pepper vines if the Company's officers continued revenue collection.
In April 1796, a determined effort was made by the British to capture the Raja in his own palace at Pazhassi. But the whole plan was in vain.
On December 18, the British Commissioner issued a declaration of frightening the people not to assemble or to assist the Pazhassi Raja. He also warned them that if they continue supporting him their property would be seized and would be regarded as enemy to the Government.
On December 30, an ineffective attempt was made to settle the differences between the Raja and the Company.
On 8th January 1797, Pazhassi Raja's men attacked the havildar's guard stationed at Pazhassi and the whole party was killed brutally except one man. The battle was fought on three successive days, 9th, 10th and 11th March 1797, the detachment made by the Company forces was overpowered by the swords, spears, bows and arrows of Pazhassi Raja's men. As the situation was full of dangers, cooperation with the Pazhassi Raja became a matter of political feasibility.
In 1801 the effort of Colonel Stevenson's cut off the pazhassi Raja from his followers in South Malabar. By May the British troops took every port both above and below the ghats in British hands and made the whole country disarmed. The Pazhassi Raja became a wanderer in the jungles accompanied by his wife and immediate attendants.
On May 24, 1804, Colonel Macleod issued a proclamation warning the people not to help the Pazhassi troops with arms, ammunition or provisions. Finally the proclamation of June 16 offered rewards for the apprehension of Pazhassi Raja, which told that their estates would be seized from that date.
On 1st November, Baber took direct charge of the operations and on November 30, 1805 he surrounded and shot the Ra.ja dead in an operation on the banks of a nullah. The Raja's body was cremated with 'customary honors'. With the death of Pazhassi Raja, the resistance movement in north Kerala came to an end.
Kannur District has played an important role in all the political movements of recent times. The Indian National Congress, which was founded in 1885, captured the attention of the people of this district. A district committee came into existence in Malabar in 1908. A branch of the All India Home Rule League, founded by Dr. Annie Beasant, functioned in Thalassery during this period.
During the independent movement the kannur district took an important part. The educational institutions in Kannur initiates the Non- Violent Non Co-operation movement as a means of achieving Swaraj, led to widespread boycott of foreign goods.
Mahatma Ghandhi and Maulana Shaukat Ali toured the district to carry the message of the Non-Co-operation and Khilaphat Movements. The Khilaphat movement equaled with the famous Malabar Rebellion of 1921 that was put down by the British with an iron hand.
In the field of politics Kannur district came into the lime light in May 1920, when the fourth All Kerala Political Conference was held at Payyannur. This was organized under the support of the Kerala Provincial Congress. The said conference was presided over by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Payyannur Conference passed a resolution and requested the Indian National Congress to adopt 'Complete Independence' instead of 'Swaraj'.
Payyannur was the main venue of the Salt Sathyagraha in Malabar. On April 13, a batch of Congress leader started on foot from Kozhikkode to the beaches of Payyannur and broke the salt laws there on Apri121. The Satyagraha camp at Payyannur was raided and the campers were beaten up.
The period following the withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement witnessed the emergence of a radical wing in the Kerala Provincial Congress. Some of the radical elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress organized a Kerala unit of the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 and functioned as a separate group within the Provincial Congress. P. Krishna Pillai, A.K. Gopalan and E.M.S. Namboothiripad were the main leaders. An extremist group of Nationalist Muslims also emerged within the Congress when the leadership was done by Muhammad Abdur Rahman. The Congress Socialists and the Nationalist Muslims made common cause against the Ghandhian group known as the Right Wing, which was led by leaders namely K.Kelappan, C.K.Govindan Nair and K.A. Damodara Menon.
A notable development in the politics of Malabar during the thirties was the rise of the Muslim League as a district political party. It was the Muslim leaders of Kannur and Thalassery who played the lead role in forming this organization.
In late thirties the leftist elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress were also active in politics of Malabar. They took active part in organizing the workers, peasants, students and teachers of Kannur district under their banner. In the election held to the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee in January 1939, the Rightists suffered a severe set back. Muhammad Abdur Rahman was elected as the president of the K.P.C.C. and E.M.S. Namboothiripad as its general secretary. Towards the end of the same year, a branch of the Indian Communist Party was formally founded in Malabar. The Congress Socialist Party workers joined the Communist Party block.
The K.P.C.C. gave a call to the people of Malabar to observe September15, 1940 as Anti-Imperialist Day. But the Congress High Command disapproved the action. The whole day was spent by doing meetings and demonstrations. Kannur district was the center of this agitation. There were violent clashes between the people and the police at several places. To meet the situation the police applied Lathicharge and firing. Two young men were killed in a clash between a mob and a police party at Morazha.
The 'Quit India' Movement of August 1942 also has its reference in Kannur district. A socialist group of workers under the leadership of Dr. K.B. Menon lead to the movement.
In 1945, at the end of the War, the Congress leaders were released from prison. By this time the Muslim League had become a decisive force in Malabar politics. It supported the demand of the All India Muslim League for the partition of India
Famine and Peasant Struggles:
The district was devastated during the War period, especially from 1943 to 1945. Famine and cholera epidemic took thousands of lives from the lower strata of society. On the initiative of the people under the leadership of the Kisan Sabha, commendable services were rendered to tide over the crisis.
A new chapter of mass movement was organized by the Kisan Sabha, which was named as the 'Grow More Food Campaign' at Mangattuparamba. More than fifty acres of government land was brought under cultivation. But the government suppressed the movement by force and destroyed the farm.
Though the War ended in 1945, famine continued to haunt the people. Karivellore, the northern most village of the present Kannur district, made a historic development in the struggle against poverty and famine. The transporting of paddy from Karivellore to Chirakkal Kovilakom was blocked and distributed to the people of the village. Leaders like A. V.Kunhambu and K.Krishnan Master led the movement.
During the month of December 1946, the people of eastern village Kavumbayi raised their demand for "punam" cultivation. A strong police party was sent to the spot. The peasants resisted the armed forces, which led to the killing of five persons in the firing.
Another important phenomenon, which changed the course of the anti-imperialist movement, was the rise of the organized working class in the industrial sector. Regarding this in 1946 the struggle of Aron Mill workers is remarkable.
In the post independence era also the struggles of the peasantry formed an important part in the history of the State. They fought against landlords and their exploitation. Places like Thillankeri, Manayankunnu, Korom and Paddikkunnu are memorable in the annals of the peasant struggles.
In 1953, the All India Conference of Kisan Sabha decided to initiate struggles for new tenancy legislations at this district. The movement for Aikya Kerala that means united Kerala also got momentum during this period and all sections of the society rallied under the movement.
(Last Updated on : 24-03-2014)
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