Playwright Girish Karnad has received a death threat for his campaign to rename Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport after 18th century Mysore king Tipu Sultan.
Karnad, who participated in the Congress-led Karnataka Government’s ‘Tipu Jayanti’ celebrations, was threatened that he would ‘meet the same end as murdered writer M M Kalburgi.
Bengaluru Police also confirmed that they had received a complaint against Karnad for ‘insulting Hindus and the Vokkaliga community (to which Kempegowda belonged to) and disrupting social harmony’.
“I feel that if Tipu Sultan was a Hindu and not a Muslim he would have attained the position in Karnataka that Shivaji Maharaj enjoys in Maharashtra,” Karnad had said.
He added that it would be apt if the Kempegowda Airport is renamed after Tipu Sultan instead of Kempegowda.
“Today, when we are celebrating this day as Deepawali and Tipu Sultan day, we can also celebrate it as Bihar day,” Karnad said.
He also said, “Kempegowda was never a freedom fighter. Still, the Bengaluru International airport has been named against him. Instead, it should have been named against Tipu Sultan.”
His Bihar day remark was an apparent jibe at BJP, which was routed in the Assembly polls. Karnad has always made known his ideological opposition to BJP.
Protests against the state-sponsored celebrations have led to violence in Karnataka.
In Madikeri, a VHP sympathiser died during a clash on Tuesday. A 26-year-old man who sustained a bullet wound on his head during police firing succumbed on Wednesday.
Following the controversy, Jnanpith award winner Karnad issued a public apology: “If anybody has been hurt by my remarks, I apologise…. What will I gain by giving such comments?”
Speaking about the threat to Karnad, a senior police officer said, “A tweet was posted by someone with the user name Intolerant Chandra…. We are aware of the tweet and action will be taken if necessary and if a complaint is lodged.”
The tweet, later deleted by the user, read: “Girish Karnad will meet the same end like kalburgi if he enrages kannadigas by replacing in Kempe gouda (sic) with Tipu Sultan.”
About the complaint against Karnad, police said MT Girish Gowda, state president of a certain ‘Human Rights and Non- Corruption Committee’, an NGO, has demanded the immediate arrest of the playwright, said an English news daily.
Karnad has now demanded immediate action against those who issued death threats and said he would begin a protest if this was not done. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who was on the dais with Karnad when he made the controversial remark, however said the government has no intention to rename the airport and it was Karnad’s personal opinion.