Bengaluru: Observing that erstwhile Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan was not a freedom fighter, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday questioned the state government’s move to celebrate his birthday on November 10.
“What is the logic behind the state government’s decision to celebrate Tipu’s birth anniversary (Jayanti) as he was only a king and not a freedom fighter,” asked Chief Justice S.K. Mukherjee hearing a PIL against the event.
Known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu Sultan ruled the Mysore kingdom from 1782-1799 succeeding his father Hyder Ali.
Though Tipu was born in 1750 at Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, his kingdom’s capital was at Srirangapatna near Mysore.
A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Mukherjee and Justice R. B. Budhihal sought response of the state government to the PIL, which claimed that Tipu was a monarch who fought against the British to protect his own kingdom.
K.P. Manjunathja of Kodagu had filed the PIL opposing the state government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti
Defending the celebration, public counsel M.R. Naik told the bench that Tipu was a great warrior who also fought against the British rulers.
Challenging the state government’s move, petitioner’s counsel Sajan Poovaiah said Tipu was a tyrant ruler who killed hundreds of people belonging to other communities, including Kodavas, Konkanis and Christians during his 17-year rule.
At this, Justic Mukherjee noted: “Even the Nizams and other monarchs of then princely states across the country fought against the British during the 18th century and the 19th century to safeguard their own interests.”
The ruling Congress began celebrating Tipu’s birth anniversary since last year, which led to violent protests by the right-wing organisations in the Mysore region.
Opposition BJP and pro-Hindu organisations like RSS have threatened to stage protests against the event, as Tipu was a “religious bigot and violent sultan”.
Manipal Global Education Chairman and former Infosys Director T. V. Mohandas Pai also slammed the state government’s plan to celebrate Tipu Jayanti, saying it amounted to celebrating the birth anniversary of Aurangzeb, the 17th century Mughal Emperor, perceived as a tyrant and a religious fundamentalist.
“The state government, instead, should celebrate the birth anniversaries of benevolent rulers like the Wodeyars of Mysore and their Diwan (Prime Minister) Mirza Ismail,” said Pai here on Tuesday.
Accusing the government of playing politics over Tipu Jayanti, Pai said celebration of such a ruler would dived the people as Tipu had killed people of different communities and forcibly converted people to Islam.
“I am a Konkani and feel offended that the state government is celebrating somebody (Tipu) who did wrong to both communities,” he said.
Pai also said that Tipu butchered Coorgis and Christians in Kodagu and Kerala and destroyed Konkani temples near Sultan Bathery and Kasargod (in north Kerala).