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Tipu Sultan Controversy

Tipu Sultan (20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, and Tipu Sahib, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore.

He was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore.

Exactly one week back, the government of Karnataka had celebrated the 265th birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan as “Tiger of Mysore Hazrath Tipu Sultan Jayanti”.

The main programme was held at Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore and the main speakers who were invited were noted writers, Girish Karnad and Barguru Ramachandrappa.

Girish Karnad had told that he would be attending the function since he had written a play on the fearless ruler, despite the right wing expressing opposition to the government’s decision.

BJP decided to boycott the event even as the State GOvernment went ahead with it.
According to Prahlad Joshi, State President of BJP, Tipu SUltan was a fanatic and pursued anti-kannada stand during his regime.

The fact that everyone is overlooking is that, neither the devotional nor fanatic interpretation of history will lead them to the truth.

Tipu Sultan was an enlightened ruler and certainly deserves to be respected.

Tipu is celebrated in the Mysore region, but has negative references in other regions of Karnataka. Such a mighty ruler cannot be judged in this immature way and a more nuanced evaluation is necessary. The protests against the celebration was going on and the crowd was under control in the initial stages.

It was Girish Karnad’s comments that acted as fodder to further agitate the people, which led the protesters to turn violent.

The writer had commented that the international airport in Bengaluru should have been named after Tipu Sultan instead of Kempe Gowda which enraged the people.

However, he issued an apology for his comments and clarified that he was neither trying to trigger a change in the name nor aiming to hurt the sentiments of the people, to which the protesters were not satisfied and unrelenting. Deaths were reported in Kodagu as the protests turned violent and there were sporadic incidents of violence by right-wing groups
against the government’s decision to celebrate it.

Meanwhile, historians felt that contemporary politicisation of Tipu’s legacy had not only led to communal unrest but also has distorted history.

Karnad also added that it would have been more apt if the airport was named after Tipu since Devanahalli, where the airport is located, which is his birthplace.

This shows the misunderstanding by the people and the growing intolerance with time.
These are situations which have arisen due to the section of people with unsound knowledge of history and it shows their lack of respect towards the nation.

The BJP took law into its hands and tried to disrupt the programme, after expressing their discontent by not attending.

A bandh was called in Kodagu and the death of an activist provided further impetus for increasing protests. Tipu Sultan is an enigmatic,complex personality who needs a correct holistic evaluation and a ruler’s position in history must not be evaluated on the basis of present day’s terms.

It is only natural to find both pros and cons if one piles up evidence from the history books.
One important thing to be noted is that Tipu Sultan made administrative reforms like liquor ban,land reforms and introduced silk which is still in sustainment in Kolar and Ramanagara.
All these points are covered up due to communalization of his legacy.

It is better that a democratically elected government must desist from celebrating historical icons and it should be left to individual interests of the people.

Interestingly, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, now residing in Kolkata says that the patriot has not been given the honour he deserved and considered this incident as a case of dirty politics.

Shahzada Anwar Ali Shah,great grandson of Tipu Sultan, said that Tipu was a brave warrior who stood single handedly against the British and died fighting valiantly.

BJP is maligning the country’s image by trying to distort history and insulting a historical pioneer.

The sacrifice of any martyr should not be belittled.

The ongoing controversy is just another unnecessary issue being racked up by the BJP and due to this, other urgent problems are not being addressed.

Historical figures do not fit into political categories and arguments on their traits must be academic.These needless conflicts are due to personal opinions of half-knowledge persons who have no idea of what the history contains.

Communal tension still prevails in the region and is a matter of concern.

“India is a diverse country with diverse opinions and We are too diverse and unequal a society to have complete harmony”, quotes playwright Abhishek Majumdar.

Srikanth Ranya

Written by Srikanth Ranya

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