Sabeel belongs to Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ Moplah community, also known as Malabar Muslims, whose ancestors were deported to the island by the British during the Malabar Rebellion of 1921.

Sabeel P
news Civil service Sunday, September 26, 2021 - 18:30

The barrage of phone calls that began on Friday for Sabeel P, a resident of Kerala’s Malappuram district, when the results of the Indian Civil Services exam for 2020 were published has still not halted. Sabeel, who secured the 470th rank in the exam, is not just overwhelmed that he cracked one of the most prestigious competitive exams in the country, but says he is also the first person from Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ Moplah community to have cleared the exam. From friends and neighbours in Malappuram’s Randethani, where he has been residing for the past eight years, to his acquaintances in the Andaman, wishes have been pouring in for this 27-year-old engineering graduate.

“Ever since the results were declared on Friday, a lot of people have been calling to wish me. Kottakal MLA Abid Hussain Thangal came home to wish me. Obviously, I feel really happy, but I’m so overwhelmed that I cracked the exam, it is yet to sink in,” Sabeel tells TNM.

Sabeel is a native of Andaman’s Port Blair. He belongs to the Moplah community, also known as Malabar Muslims, whose ancestors were deported to the island by the British during the Malabar Rebellion or the Moplah Rebellion of 1921, reported Media One. The revolt has been recognised by the Kerala government as part of the freedom struggle against the British.

“During that time, my paternal great-grandfather who lived in present day Palakkad region was brought to Andaman and jailed for two years in the Cellular Jail. Later, the British wanted to build a colony there and offered land to my great-grandfather after he was released, and he settled there,” says Sabeel.

“Though people from the community have appeared for the civil services exam before, I’m the first one to crack it,” he says.

MLA Abid Hussain with Sabeel

However, Sabeel also has roots in Kerala as his mother hails from Malappuram’s Randethani. After completing his schooling in Andaman, Sabeel graduated from the College of Engineering in Thiruvananthapuram. Speaking about how he started his civil services journey, Sabeel says, “It was during my Engineering final year, many of my seniors were preparing for civil service. That was how I got inspired,” Sabeel recalls.

“But after I got a job offer through campus placement, I decided to work for a while. I was with Tech Mahindra in Bengaluru for 1.5 years. Then I resigned and joined a coaching academy to prepare for the exam,” he adds.

Though Sabeel first attempted the exam in 2019, he could not go past the preliminary examinations. But he was determined and prepared hard.

“This time, in my second attempt I cracked it, with Public Administration as my optional subject,” he says. He also shares his wish to attempt the exam once again.

“With my present rank, I might not get an IAS post. For now, I have decided to join the Indian Revenue Service and then attempt the exam again,” adds Sabeel.

At a time when controversies around the Malabar Rebellion have intensified and right-wing outfits – including the RSS and BJP – are claiming that it was a communal revolt against Hindus, Sabeel says that such debates are limiting the narrative of the revolt altogether.

“My family personally suffered this tragedy, so what I’d like to say is that there’s no need to give a communal angle to the issue. When we do that, we’re reducing the narrative of the revolt and viewing it through a narrow lens. As a result, we won’t be able to study any further about the struggle or about what happened,” Sabeel says, adding that one should keep an open mind and look at all the possibilities about the revolt and, importantly, try to learn from it.

Sabeel has some advice for those who think the civil services exam is not crackable. “That’s a myth. Anyone can crack it, only thing is – it has a longer preparation process. One has to be consistent and disciplined, that’s the key,” he adds.

Also read: 

Variyamkunnath and nuances of the Malabar Rebellion: Author Manu S Pillai interview

Kerala leaders slam removal of Malabar Rebellion names from martyrs dictionary

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