KARNATAKA: Sangh Parivar Whips Up Communal Passion on Tipu Birthday
THE BJP and the Sangh Parivar in Karnataka once again are in the game of disturbing communal harmony in the state. This time around it was on the pretext of opposing the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. The Congress government in Karnataka has decided to celebrate the Tipu birthday officially from this year onwards and it prepared to conduct official functions throughout the state on November 10. True to its tradition of hate against minorities and multi-culturalism and amid present environment of intolerance, the Sangh Parivar was on its toe to utilise this opportunity to foment communal clashes in the name of resisting official celebration of what they call ‘religious bigot and cruel Sultan’ Tipu. In the recent past too, when it was proposed to name Bengaluru International Airport and a Central University in Karnataka after Tipu Sultan, the Saffron brigade had indulged in similar vilification campaign against him. Colonial historians and Sangh Parivar have tried to paint Tipu as 'religious bigot', 'cruel sultan'. However, the historical events clearly have ample examples to show that Tipu Sultan was not just a ruler, and moreover, not merely an Islamic ruler. He was a valiant fighter against British imperialism. That is why they (British) painted him as a religious bigot as part of their divide and rule policy. TIPU REPRESENTED MULTIPLE TRADITIONS He was “one of the foremost commanders of independence struggle who inflicted a severe blow on British and came near to breaking the power of East India Company”. Tipu cannot be reduced to a single narrative. He represented multiple traditions. He combined tolerant inter-religious traditions, liberal and secular traditions, anti-colonialism and internationalism. He could do this as he had strong roots in Sufism, and belonged to the Chishti/Bande Nawaz tradition of Sufism. He was also a “harbinger of new productive forces” and pioneered development of Mysore. The silk introduced by Tipu still forms one of the major economic activities in regions like undivided Kolar, Ramanagar and other places. Notwithstanding Tipu’s contribution to the development and also struggle against the British rule, the Sangh Parivar is out to tarnish his image based on opinions of colonial historians which suit its ideology of hate campaign. The BJP has asked its peoples representatives including MPs and MLAs not to participate in official programmes to observe Tipu birth anniversary, while VHP and Bajrang Dal organised protests including a bandh in Kodagu (Coorg) district, where according to the saffron brigade, thousands of Hindus were killed by Tipu during his rule. MADIKERI VIOLENCE Violence marked the protest in Madikeri, headquarters of Kodagu district. Three people were killed during the incident – a VHP functionary, a patient who was watching the procession from atop district hospital and a Muslim youth who was shot at while returning from the celebrations succumbed to injuries in a Mysore hospital. Who shot him is still a mystery. Both deaths in Madikeri were said to be accidental. But Sangh Parivar claimed that VHP leader was murdered during the violence.The pro-Hindutva forces tried utilising the Madikeri incident to create communal tension throughout the state. Meantime, a statement by playwright Girish Karnad at the official function at Vidhana Soudha in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was seized by these forces as another tool. In his speech, Karnad opined it would have been better had the Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli was named after Tipu Sultan (as Devanahalli is his birth place), instead of Bengaluru founder and ruler Kempe Gowda. Saffron brigade as well as caste organisations took to the streets condemning Karnad’s statement and made all kinds of derogatory remarks against the writer. Later, Karnad apologised for his statement saying that it was his opinion and he was not demanding change in the name of airport now. The VHP and Bajrang Dal, which gave a statewide bandh call on November 13 to condemn official celebrations of Tipu birth anniversary and the death of VHP functionary, withdrew it later. PROBE ORDERED Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has ordered a probe by the Regional Commissioner of Mysore division into the violence that erupted over the holding of the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan. Meanwhile, an internal enquiry by the police department conducted by a senior police official, held the district administration responsible for the violence. Both the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of Kodagu district were on leave on the eve of Tipu jayanti. The report itself is a slap on the face of the ruling Congress government and vindicates the opinion of the democratic forces. A number of writers also blamed the government for its failure to curb communalism in the state. In a memorandum submitted during a rally to demand enacting an anti-superstition law in Bengaluru on November 16, the writers and other progressive and democratic forces said “The government’s failure to control the menace is equally responsible for the recent communal violence in the state”. CPI(M) Campaign Upholding Traits of Tipu THE Karnataka state committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had welcomed the state government’s decision to officially celebrate Tipu Sultan's birthday on November 10. And it has decided to counter the attempts by divisive, communal forces to paint Tipu as 'religious bigot', 'cruel sultan'. The Party held the view that Tipu Sultan is the most revered 'national hero' in Karnataka.While welcoming the government’s decision, the CPI(M) resolved to celebrate Tipu birthday widely throughout the state with other organisations wherever possible. The Party has called upon its units to arrange public meetings, seminars, lectures and other possible activities. Such celebrations were held mostly by organising seminars in Mysore, Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Mangaluru, Kolar, Haveri, Siddapura (Uttara Kannada). The celebrations highlighted and upheld the multi-faceted personality of Tipu and fought back the communal propaganda against him. CPI (M) state secretary and former MLA G V Sriram Reddy and other leaders addressed the seminars. It is regrettable that the Congress Party and the government, as has been the case on earlier occasions, has failed to face squarely the communal onslaught either politically or administratively.