A BRIEF HISTORY

There is no evidence of the Paleolithic man having lived in this region. Nevertheless, rock-cut caves and megalithic burial sites of the Neolithic age have come to light in certain parts of the district.

The Thaliparamba-Kannur- Thalassery area abounds in rock-cut caves, dolments, burial stone circles and menhirs, all of megalithic burial order.

It can be assumed that the first batch of Aryan immigrants into the State entered the district through the Tuluva region.

 

Mooshaka Kings and Kolathiris

Early in the 9th century A.D., the Cheras re-established their political supremacy in Kerala under Kulasekhara Varman. This second line of Chera emperors ruled till 1102 A.D with their capital at Mahodayapuram. The bulk of the area, comprising of the present Kannurdistrict, seems to have been included in this empire. A separate line of rulers known as the Mooshaka kings held sway over Chirakkal and Kasaragod areas (Kolathunad) with their capital near Mount Eli. It is not clear whether this line of rulers were attached to Mahodayapura fi or whether they ruled as an independant line of kings in their own right. By the 14th century A.D., the old Mooshaka kingdom had come to be knownas Kolathunad and the rulers known as Kolathiris and had come into prominence in north Kerala.

The Kolathiris were a power to reckon with at the time of the arrival of the portuguese towards the end of the 15th century .They were political and commercial rivals of the Zamorins of Kozhikkode.

During the medieval age, several Arab scholars visited the west coast. Baliapatam, Srikantapuram, Dhharrnadom, Bekal and Mount Eli (Ezhimala) are s ome of the places. which figure prominently in their travelogues.

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Vasco Da Gama

Though Vasco Da Gamma, the famous portuguese navigator, did not visit Kannur on his way to Kozhikkode in May 1498, he established contacts with the Kolathiri ruler. His ships which had left Kozhikkode on August 29, 1498 were contacted by the boats sent by the Kolathiri and Gama was invited to visit the palace. The aim of the Kolathiri was to gain wealth and power with the help of the Portuguese, the same way the Zamorin had acquired with the help of the Arabs. In winning the alliance of the Kolathiri, 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 Almedia was sent from Portugal with specific instructions to erect forts at stratetgic points. He started constructing the Kannur Fort in 1505 and it was named St. Angelo.

On March 16, 1506, the Portuguese effectively intercepted 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.

Portuguese Ascendency

An important political development which took place at this juncture was the alliance between the Kolathiri and the Zamorin who were till then sworn enemies. The Zamorin was able to convince the Kolathiri of the real motives of the Portuguese in India and the perils inherent in his policy of befriending them.

The Portuguese followed a policy of religious persecution and forcible 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. The Kolathiri and the Zamorin fought a common war against the Portuguese and they besieged the fort of St.Angelo at Kannur, in 1564. But the portuguese continued to maintain a precarious foothold at Kannur till 1663 when the fort was captured by the Dutch in February that year .


Arrival of the English East India company

The English East lndia Company got its first foothold in the district towards the closing years of the 17th century , when it acquired a site at Thalassery for the erection of a fort and a factory .

The distemgration of the Kolathiriís dominion started in the latter half of the 17th and the beginnng 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 many difflculties it had to face 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, by their liberal trade policies. Further, unlike the portuguese, they refused to interfere in the religious and caste affairs of the local population.

Mysorean Conquest

In 1725, the French captured Mayyazhi and renamed it as Mahe in honour of the French captain Francois Mahe De Labourdonnais.

The most important episode in the political history of north Kerala in the second half of the 18th century is the conquest of Mysore by the two muslim rulers, Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan. Haidar Ali conquered Malabar in 1773.

In January 1788, Tippu Sultan descended on Kerala with a large army and founded a new capital at Feroke for his Malabar province.

The treaties of Seringapatanam, signed on February 22 and March 18, 1792, formally ceded Malabar to the British.

The British entered into agreements with the rajas of Chirakkal, ~ ; Kottayam and Kadathanand and all of them acknowledged the full I sovereignty of the Company over their respective territories.

The British Government divided the province of Malabar into two administrative divisions -the Northern and Southern, presided over by a superintendent each at Thalassery and Cherpulasseri, under the general control of the supervisor and chief magistrate of the province of Malabar who had his headquarters at Kozhikkode.


Pazhassi Revolt

While the British were busy with the political settlement of the district, a serious revolt was headed by Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the ~ Padinjare Kovilakom of the Kottayam family. The potent cause of the t 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 persisted in revenue collection.

In April 1796, a determined effort was made by the British to capture the Raja in his own palace at Pazhassi. This was in vain.

On December 18, the British Commissioner issued a proclamation forbidding the people to assemble or to assist the Pazhassi Raja and warning them that if they did so, they would be considered as irreconcilable enemies of the Company and that their property would be confiscated.

On December 30, a futile attempt was made to reconcile the differences between the Raja and the Company.

On 8thJanuary 1797, PazhassiRaja'smen launched daring attack on the havildar's guard stationed at Pazhassi and the whole party except one man was killed. In the battles fought on three successive days, -9th, lOth and II th 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 perils, a reconciliation with the i Pazhassi Raja became a matter of political expediency.

While South Canara and other parts of South India were being Seringapatnam ( 1799), Pazhassi Raja raised the standard of revolt a second time and ; shook for a while the very foundations of British power .

Colonel Stevenson's efforts early in 1801 cut off the pazhassi Raja from his adherents in South Malabar and by May the British troops had made much headway and with every port both above and below the ghats in British hands and the whole country disarmed, the Pazhassi Raja became a wanderer in the jung\esaccnmpanied by his wife and immedia attendants.

On May 24, 1804, Colonel Macleod issued a proclamation waming the people that they would be treated as rebels if they failed to fumish information about rebel movements and if they helped the Pazhassi troops with arms, ammunition or provisions. Finally the pr9clamation ofJune 16 offered rewards for the apprehension of Pazhassi - Raja, tWO Other members of his family and his principal lieutenants and declared their estates and properties confiscated.from that date.

On 1 st November, Baber took direct charge of the operations and on November 30, 1805 he surrounded and shot the Ra.,a dead in an operation on the banks of a nullah. The Raja's body was cremated with "customary honours". With the death of Pazhassi Raja, the resistance movement in north Kerala came to an end.

Freedom Movement

Kannur District has played an emportent rol 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 from Kannur district has played an important role in all the political movements its very inception. 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 and among its active workers was V .K. Krishna Menon.

The decision of the Nag pur Congress to give up constitutional methods of agitation and resort to Non- Violent Non Co-operation as a means of achieving Swaraj, led to widespread boycott of foreign goods, courts of law and educational institutions in Kannur .

Mahatma Ghandhi and Maulana Shaukat Ali toured the district to carry the message of the Non-Co-operation and Khilaphat Movements. The Khilaphat movement coincided with the famous Malabar Rebellion of 1921 which was put down by the British with an iron hand.

 

Payyannur Conference

Kannur district came into the lime light of Kerala politics in May 192~, when the fourth All Kerala Political Conference was held at Payyannur under the auspices of the Kerala Provincial Congress. This conference was presided over by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Payyannur Conference passed a resolution requesting the Indian National Congress to adopt 'Complete Independence' instead of "Swaraj" as its goal at the annual sessio which was scheduled to take place at Calcutta during that year.

Salt Sathyagraha

Payyannur was the main venue of the Salt Sathyagraha in Malabar. On April 13, a batch of Congress volunteers }lnder the leadership ofK. Kelappan started on foot from Kozhikkode to the beaches ofPayyannur and broke the salt laws there on Apri121. The Satyagraha camp at Payyannur was raided and the campers were beaten up. There were widespread demonstrations in Kannur, Thalassery and other parts of the along Congress workers broke salt.laws and picketed foreign good dealers and liquor shops.

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 organised a Kerala unit of the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 and functioned as a seperate group within the Provincial Congress. The leadership of this group was in the hands ofpersons like P. Krishna Pillai, A.K. Gopalan and E.M.S. Namboothiripad. An extremist group of Nationalist Muslims also emerged within the Congress during this period under the leadership of Muhammad Abdur Rahiman. The Congress Socialists and the Nationalist Muslims made common cause against the Ghandhian group known as the Right Wing which was led by such leaders as 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 organisation. -

The leftist elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress were also , active in the t:i>litics ofMalabar in the late thirties. They took active part in organising 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 Rahiman 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 Mal.abar. The Congress Socialist Party workers joined the Communist Party block.

Morazha Incident

The K.P .C.C. gave a call to the people of Malabar to observe September 15, 1940 as Anti-Imperialist Day. The action was disapproved by the Congress High Command, but there were meetings and demonstrations all over Malabar on this day. Kannur district was the centre of this agitation. There were violent clashes between the people and the police at several places and lathicharge and firing were resorted to by the police to meet the situation. Two young men were killed in a clash between amob and a police party at Morazha. In connection with the latter incident, K.P .R. Gopalan, a prominent communist, was arrested on a charge of murder and later sentenced to death. But, owing to the intervention of several top ranking political leaders including Mahatma Ghandhi, the death penalty was not carried out.

The 'Quit India' Movement of August 1942 also had its echoes in Kannur district. A socialist group among the Congress workers under Dr . K.B. Menon, provided leadership to the movement.

In 1945, at the end of the War, the Congress leaders were released from prison. The Muslim League had by this time 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

TheWar period, especially from 1943 to 1945, had its ravages on the district. 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.

The "Grow More Food Campaign " organised at Mangattuparamba by the Kisan Sabha was anew chapter in the history of mass movement. More than fifty acres ofgovernment land was brought under cultivation. But the governrnent 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 stride 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. The movement was led by peasant leaders like A. V .Kunhambu and K.Krishnan Master. One Kannan and Kunhambu became martyrs in the struggle when police opened fire.

During the month ofDecember 1946, the people ofKavumbayi, an eastern village of the district, raised their demand for punam cultivation. A strong police contingent was sent to the spot. The peasants resisted the armed forces which led to the killing of five peasants in the firing.

The rise of the organised working class in the industrial sector was another important phen9menon of the period that changed the course of the anti-imperialist movement. The struggle of Aron Mill workers in the year 1946 is noteworthy in this regard.

Even after independence, 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 the post indep~dence era.

The All India Conference of Kisan Sabha, held at Kannur in 1953, resolved to initiate struggles for new tenancy legislations. The movement for Aikya Kerala (united Kerala) also got momentum during this period and all sections of the society rallied under the movement.