karnataka: As the Congress government in Karnataka went ahead with 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary celebrations today, protests erupted at many places in the state. Tipu Sultan died in 1799, but it was only in 2015 that the state government decided to officially celebrate his birthday while describing him as one of the earliest freedom fighters. However, the decision met with resistance from the right wing which sees him as a bigoted tyrant who forcefully converted thousands and killed thousands.
This year, too, the BJP and their sympathisers protested against the celebrations.
In Madikeri, the district headquarters of Kodagu in Karnataka, protestors stoned a bus as part of their agitation against the celebrations of Tipu Jayanti. They were taken into protective custody. Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Kodagu district, which historically was at odds with Tipu. It is said he killed thousands of people there. Kodagu saw the worst of protests in 2015. Extra security has been deployed here this time.
Richard D'Souza, District Collector, Madikeri confirmed to NDTV that the three state government functions in Kodagu went off peacefully. In Madikeri, elected BJP representatives did try to go on the stage to disrupt proceedings but they were removed from the location.
Schools in rural Kodagu functioned normally but some schools in Madikeri remained shut as some school buses remained off the roads.
The SP of Kodagu, Rajendra Prasad, told NDTV that apart from stone pelting, the situation remained under control. He said besides 1,500 policemen, personnel from the Home Guard and the KSRP were also on duty. 200 CCTV camera are in place to catch hold micreants.
In Bengaluru, police commissioner T Suneel Kumar had said no processions would be allowed either for or against Tipu Jayanti today. He said, "The government is celebrating Tipu Jayanti in various parts of Bangalore and we have made elaborate security arrangements. About 11,000 policemen will be on this job."
Mr Kumar said no preventive arrests have been done so far. He added that Section 144 - prohibitory orders preventing the gathering of people - may be imposed if he felt the situation required it.
The debate over Tipu had gained fresh momentum last month after President Kovind praised Tipu Sultan in his speech and called him "a man who died a historical death". The President was speaking in Bengaluru at an event to mark the 60th anniversary of the state legislature building, the Vidhana Soudha.
The mention of Tipu led to charges by the BJP that the Congress had written his speech for him, which was denied both by the Karnataka state government and the President's office.
In a half hour speech, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, "Whoever is opposing Tipu Jayanti is doing so for political reasons. There is no reason to oppose Tipu. He was not against anyone. He was not anti-Kannada. But there is an attempt to give people wrong information."
The chief minister used the opportunity to attack the opposition BJP. He said, "Yeddyurappa, Jagadish Shettar, Eshwarappa - they commented on the President's speech which praised Tipu. They said we dictated to him - the government wrote it for him and made him say it. How low are they."