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Tipu Jayanti row: BJP protesters detained, stones pelted at bus in Karnataka

The ruling Congress in Karnataka describes Tipu Jayanti as a freedom fighter who died battling the British, while the BJP and the Sangh Parivar say he killed Hindus and Christians.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2017 16:44 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Tipu Sultan,Tipu Jayanti,Tipu Sultan history
BJP workers protest against the Tipu Jayanti celebrations in Hubli in Karnataka on Friday. (ANI Twitter)

Unidentified people pelted stones at a state-run bus in Karnataka’s Kodagu and BJP workers staged demonstrations to protest the annual celebrations of the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, a powerful former ruler of Mysore who evokes extreme sentiments in the state.

The ruling Congress has been celebrating the day as Tipu Jayanti since 2015 and describe the monarch as a freedom fighter who died battling the British in 1799. Right-wing Hindu groups, the BJP and Sangh Parivar, consider Tipu Sutan a “bigot” and “tyrant” who killed Hindus and Christians during his expansion into the region.

On Friday, chief minister Siddaramaiah called Tipu Sultan the first freedom fighter of the country.

“Honouring India’s first freedom fighter & the Tiger of Mysore for his bravery & sacrifice in fighting the British. Karnataka salutes his patriotism, courage & military excellence. #TipuJayanti,” he tweeted.

Officials said more than a 100 BJP workers were taken into custody when they staged a protest in Madikeri in Kodagu district, where Tipu Sultan had allegedly killed thousands of locals known as Kodavas during his rule. The district had seen largescale violence in 2015.

KS Sundar Raj, a senior police official of Madikeri confirmed an incident of stone-pelting on a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation bus.

Protesters threw stones and damaged a bus of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation in Madikeri during a protest against the Tipu Jayanti celebrations. (ANI Twitter)

“Section 144 has been imposed in the district for 48 hours and they were not permitted to protest,” Raj said.

“Appachu Ranjan, the local MLA, and sunil Subramani, the local MLC, who were part of the protest, were also taken into custody,” he added.

However, the BJP faced major embarrassment after one of its MLAs was seen at an event commemorating the ruler. Anand Singh, MLA from Ballari, was seen participating in an event celebrating Tipu Jayanti in the town. Repeated attempts to contact Singh through phone calls and messages went unanswered.

BJP leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar said the party would take strict action against those who had gone against the party’s stand.

Addressing mediapersons, Shettar said the BJP opposed the event as it was divisive. “Because it divided society and creates communal tension, we are opposing it,” he said. Shettar said the Congress was only celebrating Tipu Jayanti as part of its “vote-bank politics”.

Regarding Singh, Shettar said: “Some MLAs participated in the event and this will be taken very seriously by the party. The party’s stand is very clear and strict action will be taken.”

The celebrations were held amid tight security after police commissioner TS Suneel Kumar announced that 11,000 police personnel, including 30 Karnataka State Reserve Police platoons, would be deployed.

“Either for or against, we will not permit any processions in the city,” he said.

On Thursday, the Karnataka high court HAD rejected a petition seeking a stay on the celebrations.

In the lead up to the event this year, BJP parliamentarian Shobha Karandlaje and Union Minister Anathkumar Hegde had asked the state government to not include their names in invites.

However, the BJP was left red faced after President Ramnath Kovind praised Tipu in a speech in Bengaluru.

“Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by Europeans,” Kovind said last month.

Tipu Sultan, killed in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1799, is credited with developing an indigenous rocket known as Mysorean rocket, a prototype of the British Congreve rockets.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 13:31 IST