Bringing the state under a thick security blanket, “Tipu Jayanti” celebrations were held amid protests across Karnataka today to mark the birth anniversary of the controversial 18th-century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom, Tipu Sultan.
With a sharply divided opinion over Tipu’s legacy and rising political temperature, opposition BJP, several Hindu organisations and individuals opposed the Karnataka government celebrating Tipu Jayanti through statewide protests.
As over 54,000 police personnel and platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP), bolstered by the Rapid Action Force (RAF), kept a hawk-eyed vigil, functions were held at the district headquarters, where in-charge ministers and others hailed the legacy of Tipu.
There were reports of stones being hurled at a state transport bus and over 100 people, including local BJP MLA Appachu Ranjan, being detained in Kodagu district, where widespread protests and violence had marred the Tipu Jayanti celebrations two years ago, when a local VHP leader died and several others, including policemen, were injured.
Kodagu district observed a shutdown in response to a bandh called by the BJP and certain Hindutva outfits. Prohibitory orders are in place in the district till tomorrow morning.
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.
But, Tipu Sultan is a sensitive issue 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.
Kodagu-based writer of historical books C P Beliappa had called the erstwhile ruler of Mysore a “treacherous tyrant”.
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.
With a sharp polarisation over Tipu Jayanti celebrations, the Karnataka government had made massive security arrangements across the state, deploying over 54,000 police personnel, 20,000 home guards and 212 platoons of the KSRP.
The state security personnel were bolstered by the deployment of 15 platoons of the RAF across?the state.
In Bengaluru alone, 11,000 policemen were deployed, officials said.
Prohibitory orders have also been clamped at certain places in Belagavi and Chitradurga districts.
In Mangaluru, BJP district minority morcha president Franklin Monteiro, who tried to break the security cordon and barge into the premises where the celebrations were organised, was placed under arrest.
Tipu is seen in a negative light in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district, where the Christians believe he had unleashed atrocities and forced conversion to Islam on their community.
Even as BJP MLAs and MPs stayed away from the event, with some even writing to the respective district administrations not to mention their names in the invitations for it, party MLA from Vijayanagara constituency in Ballari district Anand Singh joined the celebrations.
Recently, Union minister Anantkumar Hegde had kicked up a?row after he requested the Karnataka government not to include?his name in the list of invitees for the Tipu Jayanti event.
Tipu Jayanti has become so controversial that recent remarks made by President Ram Nath Kovind during his address to a joint session of the Karnataka legislature on the then Mysore ruler had sparked a war of words between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP in the state.
The president had hailed Tipu, saying he died a heroic death fighting the British.
The BJP sees Tipu as a “religious bigot” and a “brutal killer”, while some Kannada outfits call him anti-Kannada, citing that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.