Tipu Jayanti ban: A celebration that wasn't

Last Updated 31 July 2019, 19:21 IST

Three days in, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's freshly elected government decided on Tuesday to put an end to the ‘Hazrat Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ celebrations in the state, marking an end to the 4-year-old affair.

Hitting back at the decision, ex-CM Siddaramaiah took to Twitter. "Tipu was not recognised just because he is from a minority community but because of his contribution as a ruler," tweeted Siddaramaiah. He said that the BJP's decision was "wrong and a big mistake".

A hallmark of the Siddaramaiah government, the 18th-century erstwhile Mysuru kingdom ruler's birthday, on Nov. 10, was officially celebrated in pockets in state-sponsored programmes across the state, in homage to his legacy. The day, in its first year in 2015, also happened to fall around Diwali.

The BJP has boycotted the celebrations every year. The resistance was not restricted to boycotts, however.

The first celebration, in 2015, saw widespread violent protests by the BJP, the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal. In Kodagu, the protests left two people dead. One of them was a local VHP leader.

The then BJP state president Pralhad Joshi had said: “Tipu Sultan was a fanatic and anti-Kannada. We oppose the State Government’s decision to celebrate his birth anniversary, that too during Deepavali."

"The State Government was insulting those who were subjected to his (Tipu’s) cruelty and killed mercilessly, particularly the people of Kodagu, who were the worst sufferers of his rule," he had said, hinting at the ruler's exploitation of the people of Kodagu.

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Police clash with a mob over the Tipu Sultan birth anniversary celebrations in Madikeri on Nov. 10, 2015. DH photo

Every year, one camp has celebrated the occasion while the other has protested against it. It's just like the two factions of historians who are divided over the side of history to place the Tiger of Mysore. While some talk of his valiant fight against the British and his secularism, others point to the writings of the ruler's own commander, Mir Hussein Ali Khan Kirmani, and British writings with mentions of his exploits in the Madikeri-Malabar region, which include forced conversions, among other things.

Here is a glimpse of what happened in the years that followed.


Protest: Then BJP State President B S Yediyurappa, writer Dr M Chidananda Murthy along with BJP leaders Shobha Karandlaje, R Ashok, S Suresh Kumar, Katta Subramanya Naidu and a large number of party supporters staged a protest against the State Government's Tipu Jayanti celebration, held in front of the Town Hall in Bengaluru. Photo - DH.

Celebration: Legislative Assembly Speaker KB Koliwad, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George and Urban Development & Haj Minister Roshan Baig at the Hazrat Tipu Sultan Jayanti organised by Kannada and Culture Department at Banquet Hall, Vidhana Soudha, in Bengaluru. Photo - DH.


Protest: Veeravanite Onake Obavva Horata Vedike protesting against Tipu Jayanti celebrations as it was a humiliation to the valour of Onake Obavva against Hyder Ali's troops. Photo - Samvada.org

Onake Obavva was a heroic warrior woman and wife of a soldier in the army of Chitradurga's last leader Madikari Nayaka. The story goes that when Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan's father, and his troops attacked the Chitradurga fort in 1779, Obavva with an onake (pestle) singlehandedly killed several of Hyder Ali's soldiers before she was killed.

Celebration: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah donning the Tipu headgear and sword in the Vidhana Soudha during the 2017 celebration. Photo - Twitter


Protest: Police personnel arrested workers of Bajrang Dal, VHP and Sri Rama Sene during a protest against Tipu Jayanti, near ZP Office in Mangaluru. Photo - DH

Celebration: Karnataka Minority Welfare Minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan and former CM Siddaramaiah at his residence in Bengaluru. Photo - ANI

Interestingly, in 2018, Chief Minister of the Congress-JD(S)-led government HD Kumaraswamy and his deputy G Parameshwara couldn't attend the celebration. While the former cited health issues as the reason for his absence, the latter said he could not attend as he was out of town.

(Published 30 July 2019, 15:08 IST)

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