Govt mulling removal of lesson on Tipu from textbooks

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday indicated his government's plans to remove the lesson on Tipu Sultan from middle school history textbooks and said he does not believe the controversial 18th-century ruler of erstwhile Mysore kingdom was a freedom fighter.

"Tipu - we are going to drop everything and even in textbooks also (lesson regarding him) appeared that also we are thinking to cancel," he told reporters here in response to a question, days after BJP MLA Appachu Rajan demanded the removal of the lesson saying it carried "wrong information".

Yediyurappa said he does not believe Tipu Sultan was a freedom fighter. "....we will look into it, we will examine it (demand for removing the lesson from textbooks)," he added. The move was slammed by opposition Congress which said removing the lesson was like "distorting history".

State Primary and Secondary Education MinisterSuresh Kumar had on Monday asked officials to look into the demand by Ranjan and sought a report in three days. The Minister in a note has asked the Managing Director of Karnataka Textbook Society to call a meeting of history textbook drafting committee and to invite the MLA to discuss the need for the lesson.

Ranjan had last week written to the minister demanding that the lesson on Tipu Sultan be removed. Speaking to reporters later, he alleged Tipu had converted thousands of Christians and Kodavas forcibly to Islam, run his administration in Persian language and was not a freedom fighter.

Meanwhile, opposing the move to remove the lesson, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Siddaramaiah on Wednesday called the BJP "bigots". "Removing lesson on Tipu from textbooks is like distorting history. Tipu fighting British is true or false? History should not be distorted, we have to teach children history and learn from it... BJP is a bigot," he told reporters in Bagalkote.

State Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao asked: "Is Yediyurappa an expert to remove lesson on Tipu?". Soon after coming to power, the BJP government in Karnataka in July had scrapped the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan, an annual government event the party had been opposing since 2015 when it was launched during the Congress rule, led by Siddaramaiah. The BJP and right-wing organisations have been strongly opposing Tipu, calling the erstwhile Mysore king a "religious bigot".

Tipu was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.

Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe thousands of their men and women were held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam. He was also accused of execution of Mandyam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Diwali as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.

However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians and they see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British. While BJP and some Hindu organisations see Tipu as a "religious bigot" and a "brutal killer", a few Kannada outfits call him "anti-Kannada", saying he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.

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