A descendant of 18th century Mysore king Tipu Sultan has called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to end the controversy surrounding the latter’s 265th birth anniversary.
Anwar Ali Shah told ANI, “This controversy must end now. I appeal to our Prime Minister to intervene and sort out the issue. These protests are being done deliberately. The history of Tipu Sultan has been and is being distorted.”
The clashes between a Muslim group and Hindutva activists took place earlier this week after the former organised a procession to mark a state government-sponsored Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations.
The Madikeri region of Karnataka is still said to be very tense, with local residents continuing to blame what they call ‘outsiders’ for the clashes that have been taking place. There is a near curfew-like situation in the area.
The police is out in full force to prevent any untoward incidents in the area as also in other parts of Karnataka, when the VHP is expected to organise protests over the death of one of its activists.
On Wednesday, well known playwright Girish Karnad received a death threat for demanding that Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport to be renamed after Tipu Sultan.
While the ruling Congress Party in Karnataka has described Tipu Sultan as a true secularist, the hardliners in the BJP and its associate outfits such as the VHP, have criticised the ongoing celebrations as having the potential to divide society, and have warned well known personalities such as south Indian film star Rajinikanth not to accept a film offer on Tipu Sultan.
The state unit of the BJP has stayed away from the Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
Earlier this week, police had to resort to a baton charge to bring a near riot-like situation under control in Madikeri.
Skirmishes between right-wing activists and security officials were also reported from many other parts of Karnataka. A VHP activist was also killed.
Tipu Sultan, who is considered one of the early freedom fighters who took on the British, is not regarded highly by the people of Kodagu, a tribal community, who were part of a bloody rebellion against the Mysore ruler.
Tipu Sultan was born on November 20, 1750 and died during the Battle of Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799. He was also known as the Tiger of Mysore, and was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore.
During his reign, he introduced a number of administrative innovations, including new coinage, a new luni-solar calendar, a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry. He wrote the military manual Fathul Mujahidin and was considered a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery.
Throughout his adult life, Tipu Sultan was engaged in expansionist attacks against his neighbours. He remained an implacable enemy of the British East India Company, bringing them into renewed conflict with his attack on British-allied Travancore in 1789.
In the Third Anglo-Mysore War, Tipu Sultan was forced into the humiliating Treaty of Srirangapatna, losing a number of previously conquered territories, including Malabar and Mangalore. He sent emissaries to foreign states, including the Ottoman Turkey, Afghanistan, and France, in an attempt to rally opposition to the British.
During the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, the forces of the British East India Company, supported by the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad, defeated Tipu and he was killed on May 4, 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna.