Karnataka govt observes Tipu Jayanti amid heavy security; BJP says HD Kumaraswamy hiding as he can't justify supporting 'fanatic'

The Karnataka government celebrated the birth anniversary of controversial Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan on Saturday, bringing the state under a thick security blanket amid threats of protest by the BJP, Sangh Parivar and Kodava organisations.

Heavy security arrangement was seen across the state both near venues celebrating Tipu Jayanti as well in sensitive areas such as Madikeri, which has seen Tipu Jayanti-related violence in the past.

Calling Tipu a "religious bigot", the state BJP unit had urged the JDS-Congress coalition government to drop its decision to celebrate 'Tipu Jayanthi'. Though officials had said that no processions, either in favour or against the event will be allowed, protests were held in several parts of Karnataka. The situation, however, remained under control with Section 144 been imposed as a precautionary measure in at least nine districts of the southern state.

Several BJP workers were arrested in Madikeri, which serves as the Kodagu district headquarters in Karnataka, and has been at the centre of anti-Tipu protests since 2015 when the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah announced its plans to celebrate Tipu Jayanti.

Sangh Parivar workers staged a protest at a Ganpati temple in Kushalnagar, Kodagu, and raised slogans such as 'Kuttappa amar rahe', in reference to district unit VHP secretary D Kuttappa who died in the 2015 celebrations.

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. A bandh has been called by Tipu Jayanti Virodhi Horata Samithi.

BJP activists, led by District BJP president Yeshwanth Rao Jadhav, were arrested by police near the Tipu Jayanti programme venue In Davangere city, at government High school ground, after they attempted to barge onto the podium of the programme.

The sloganeering activists were protesting against Tipu Jayanthi and the state government.

Protests were also held in Virajpet, where local MLA KG Bopaiah was also taken into custody. Bopaiah, claimed that that Tipu Sultan was "cruel" and a "fundamentalist". He also said that the BJP is not opposing Muslims, but is opposing a cruel king's celebrations. "The government doing wrong by celebrating Tipu Jayanti," he said, as Holy Quran forbids any kind of birthday celebration, even the Prophet's birthday.

The state police also detained BJP workers led by MP Prahlad Joshi, who were heading towards Mini Vidhana Soudha to protest against Tipu Jayanti celebrations.

In Bengaluru, over 15,000 policemen were deployed to prevent an untoward incident. Of them 500 were deployed in and around the Vidhana Soudha where Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, is expected to attend Tipu Jayanti celebrations.

Wishing success for the Tipu Jayanti celebrations, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in a statement Saturday said, "Tipu's progressive measures in administration, his quest for innovation are commendable".

"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.

Kumaraswamy, however, has decided to skip the celebrations at Vidhana Soudha citing health reasons.

BJP's Karnataka unit, however, criticised Kumaraswamy, saying that the chief minister has "gone into hiding" because he cannot justify his decision of celebrating a "fanatic". The party also shared footage of Kumaraswamy opposing Tipu Jayanti and then embracing it.

"What is the point of celebrating a fanatic when the chief minister himself abandons a government function," the party tweeted.

The previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah observed Tipu Jayanthi on November 10 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.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 10, 2018 14:00:50 IST