Bengaluru: The Karnataka government Saturday celebrated the birth anniversary of the controversial 18th century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, Tipu Sultan, bringing the state under a thick security blanket amid threats of protest by the BJP and many Hindu outfits.
Calling Tipu a “religious bigot,” the state BJP unit had urged the JDS-Congress coalition government to drop its decision to celebrate ‘Tipu Jayanthi.‘ As a precautionary measure, prohibitory orders have been clamped in many districts of the southern state.
No processions, either in favour or against the event will be allowed, officials said. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in districts like Kodagu and Chitradurga, coastal regions among others, where local communities are opposed to the celebrations.
In Kodagu district, which was marred by widespread protests and violence during the first official celebration in 2015, Tipu Jayanti Virodhi Horata Samithi has called for a bandh Saturday. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker Kuttappa had died in Kodagu district during the clash that erupted during the celebrations in 2015.
Superintendent of Police of Kodagu Sumana D Pannekara told reporters that the situation was peaceful so far and security arrangements have been made to ensure that no untoward incidents took place. She said no one would be allowed to forcefully shut shops and business establishments.
“Around 500 police personnel along with officials have been deployed in and around Vidhana Soudha (Bengaluru). DCPs of different zones in the city will be in charge of security in their respective jurisdiction. About 15,000 police personnel will be manning the city,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar said.
Tipu Jayanti celebration at the Vidhana Soudha will be held in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, as Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will not be present due to health reasons. Wishing success for the Tipu Jayanti celebrations, Kumaraswamy in a statement Saturday said, “Tipu’s progressive measures in administration, his quest for innovation are commendable.”
He also stated that as he was taking rest on doctor’s advice, he was unable to take part in the programme. “It is unnecessary to add special meaning to it. It is also far from truth that he (chief minister) is not taking part due to the fear of losing power, as he opposes such blind beliefs,” the statement said.
It is the first Tipu Jayanthi celebration after the Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) coalition government came to power in the state. The previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah observed Tipu Jayanthi on 10 November every year since 2015, amid stiff opposition by the BJP and several Hindu organisations.
Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore and considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces. Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe that thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.
He is also accused of execution of Mandayam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Deepavali, as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru. However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.
While BJP and some Hindu organisations sees Tipu as a “religious bigot” and a “brutal killer,” few Kannada outfits call him “anti-Kannada,” citing that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.