After triggering trouble in Karnataka, birth-anniversary celebrations for Tipu Sultan are causing disquiet in neighbouring Tamil Nadu as well and pitched sections of the civil society against the state police over plans to honour the erstwhile king.
Activists have been up in arms since the police last week denied permission to a Vellore-based group to celebrate the anniversary of the 18th century ruler, with many dubbing the police measure as “shocking”. Tamizhaga Makkal Jananavaka Katchi (TKJK), a Muslim organisation, has also moved the Madras High Court, challenging the police decision to deny it permission.
The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed Tamil Nadu police to permit the function with strict conditions that the organization holds a public meeting in January in Vellore to celebrate birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. Justice M M Sundresh gave the direction to the inspector of Gudiyatham Town Police Station on a petition filed by Ismail, general secretary of Thamizhaga Makkal Jananayaga Katchi, the Muslim organization that challenged police decision to reject permission to celebrate Tipu Sultan Birth anniversary. The police told the court that they were ready to give permission to hold the meeting on the condition that the organization follows conditions imposed.
Among the list of 17 conditions is a stipulation that no speeches should me made against any religion, the government or its policies and the speeches should be confined to the life of Tipu Sultan.
Since the government expressed inability to make precautionary arrangements for November 27 meeting, following which the Muslim organization suggested January 9 or 10. It was then that the judge asked the police to give permission for the meeting with conditions stipulated by the police.
Earlier, had expressed fears in the court that the celebrations to honour Tipu Sultan could spell unrest in Tamil Nadu as it did in Karnataka and said this was why they denied permission. Karnataka had witnessed violence earlier this month as right-wing Hindu outfits opposed the government-sponsored anniversary celebrations. Protesters claimed the erstwhile Mysore ruler was a tyrant who converted Hindus and persecuted Christians.
Tamil Nadu officials say police intelligence reports hinted at possible trouble and the denial of permission to TKJK was a precautionary measure. However, MG Devasahayam, a civil society member and retired top bureaucrat, said the denial of permission amounted to banning the event. “It is an extraordinary move that should be resorted to only in the rarest of rate circumstances,” he said.
Influential Muslim leader and president of the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, M H Jawahirullah decried the police decision as “shocking” and blamed the Sangh Parivar of vitiating the atmosphere. He said he was surprised by the police denial since none less than the state education minister Nathan R Viswanathan had attended a ceremony to honour Tiup in Didigal earlier.
Senior state BJP leader H Raja, however, backed the police measure and said the party opposed any move that honoured the “oppressive ruler”. Incidentally, several right-wing Hindu outfits had in the recent past cautioned Tamil superstar Rajinikanth from accepting to play the role of Tipu offered by a film producer.