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On Sunday, Mysuru’s erstwhile ruler Tipu Sultan’s 270th birth anniversary saw more than 5,000 people throng to pay homage to him in Srirangapatana, The Hindu reported.
Known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu had died fighting British troops at Srirangapatana during the fourth Anglo-Mysore War on May 4, 1799. He was laid to rest next to his parents Hyder Ali and Fakr-Un-Nisa at Gumbaz in Srirangapatna, the historical town which saw heave security arrangements to maintain law and order.
TanveerSait, former Minister and Congress MLA representing Narasimharaja Assembly segment in Mysuru district, visited the Gumbaz-e-Shahi in the morning and paid his respects to Tipu and his parents.He had staged a protest against the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) and Deputy Commissioner Abhiram G Sankar, who did not heed to their request to lend the Bannimantapa Grounds to celebrate Tipu Jayanthi. Finally, Sait moved the Karnataka High Court seeking action against (MUDA) and the DC, on Friday.
Despite controversies revolving around Tipu’s name, the secretary of the Tipu Wakf Estate praised the communal harmony and national integrity being displayed by the people. According to Mr. Pasha, a pavement vendor at Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangapatna, at least 75% of the visitors to Tipu’s tomb are from non-Muslim communities. “At least 10,000 people would visit by Monday,” he said, expecting the numbers to quickly escalate.
The celebrations, which were held by the state government from 2015, were discontinued this year after an interim order was passed by the BJP-led government on July 30, just days after the party came to power in the state. In the first year of celebration, two persons were killed in Kodagu district after violent clashes.
This order by the BJP-led government was challenged in the Karnataka HC on November 6, the high court’s division bench, headed by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice S.R. Krishna kumar, directed the state government to reconsider its July 30 cabinet decision and respond by third week of January 2020. The bench also said that private celebrations of Tipu Jayanti were allowed and asked the state government to place on record the order cancelling Tipu Jayanti celebrations in the state.
Why did the BJP wish to stop the celebration?
There are historical accounts of Tipu funding many temples and monasteries, but not once have accounts been highlighted, while his acts against the Hindu community are often exaggerated.
Tipu is credited with modernisation of the army, roads and irrigation system, and historians point out attempts are being made to show Tipu’s multi-layered personality from a narrow sectarian prism.
The ruling BJP and its right-wing allies consider Tipu a tyrant, religious bigot and anti-Hindu who forcibly converted hundreds of Hindus to Islam and persecuted those who opposed. Every year since 2015, the BJP ran a campaign criticizing Tipu for killing Kodavas and Mangaluru Christians, and pillaging temples in south India.
Appachu Ranjan, the MLA of Madikeri in Kodagu and a BJP leader, had also petitioned the Karnataka Education Department to remove all references to Tipu Sultan in textbooks printed in the state.
A few Kannada outfits also call Tipu Sultan “anti-Kannada”, alleging that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.
This is not the first instance of right-wingers painting Muslim rulers to be tyrants and barbarians and tampering with history. Roads and cities named after Muslim kings from the medieval era have had their names changed.
The Mughal sarai station was renamed after BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya and Allahabad was renamed to Prayagraj.
The TajMahal, an iconic monument and a UNESCO world heritage site considered a ‘symbol of love’ saw no place among the Hindu and Buddhist monuments in the tourism booklet issued by the Uttar Pradesh government. BJP leaders have also said that the Taj Mahal was earlier a temple called Tejo Mahal and it would be restored to its glory.
Tipu Sultan has been the subject of quite a political tug-of-wars. It is an irony that the right-wing religious fanatics are blatantly pointing the finger towards him, spreading religious vitriol, looking to erase the acts of development of an erstwhile pioneer from the minds of the public.