‘We drank blood and urine, breathed through nail hole’: Shocking experience of 1921 wagon tragedy
On 10th November 1921, during the time of Mappila Rebellion, the British police bundled around 100 prisoners into a freight wagon to take them from Tirur, a town in Kerala, to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Most of them succumbed to death inside the wagon due to suffocation.
The Sangh Parivar has always shown doubts over the role of Muslims in the Indian Independence movement. But the tale of India's freedom struggle proves that their doubts are pointless. The wagon tragedy of 1921 is one such chapter in India's history. On 10th November 1921, during the time of Mappila Rebellion, the British police bundled around 100 prisoners into a freight wagon to take them from Tirur, a town in Kerala, to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Most of them succumbed to death inside the wagon due to suffocation.
Asib Safar, a Facebook user, has shared this horrific experience of Konnola Ahmed Haji, from Kottappadi, Malappuram, who could escape from the wagon tragedy:
“On November 4, the British police arrested me and my elder brother Yusuf. We thought that they might arrest our elder brother Moideen Kutti, who was a Khilafath secretary. But we never expected our arrest. We were taken to Malabar Special Police (MSP) camp. The charge was that we were behind destruction of Pulamanthole Bridge, which we had never seen in our lives. They gave us rice without salt and clobbered us for almost a week in Haig barrack.
On November 20, they tied us together and positioned us between a bullock cart and a donkey cart. Carts started moving, so we too. We were beaten with bayonet when we slowed down. Somehow, we reached Tirur with wounds all over the body. We got only rice in a cigarette tin to eat. We fell on the platform as we were tired and slept.
Around 7 in the evening, a train arrived from the west. They pulled us inside the wagon like filling cotton in pillow. They closed the door when around 100 of us were filled inside the wagon. There was not enough room to accommodate that many people and we began to suffocate and get thirsty. We cried out of thirst and batted the wall. We drank our urine, started to grate each other and sucked our blood. My brother and I were on a side where could find a nail hole to breathe. But that was not enough and very soon we fell unconscious.
We reached Pothannur in Tamil Nadu around 4 am and we were supposed to be taken to Bellari jail. They opened the door in Pothannur and the scene was enough to scare those British devils. Sixty four people were found dead, out of which 60 were Muslims and four were Thiyyas.
They showered water into the wagon and those alive were taken to a hospital in Coimbatore. Eight more people died on the way to the hospital, but the Pothannur station master refused taking over the dead. They were brought back to Tirur and were buried in Korangath Juma Musjid Khabaristan. The four Thiyyas were buried in Muthrur."