Tipu Jayanti

Tipu JayantiTempers flare in Kodagu as Karnataka govt's intent puts Congress, BJP on collision course

The small hill town of Madikeri, which serves as the Kodagu district headquarters in Karnataka, has been dealing with consistent turmoil each November since 2015 when former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah announced that the state would celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. The then-Congress-led state government declared that Tipu Jayanti would be celebrated in all taluk and district headquarters of the state covering Kodagu — thereby angering native Kodavas who believe that the 18th-century ruler carried out a massacre against their ancestors in 1785. While many regions of state witnessed protests during the 2015 Tipu Jayanti, things took an ugly turn in Madikeri leading to two deaths. Though the following years were not tainted with such casualties, the BJP and other right-wing elements obstruct the celebrations every year, calling for bandhs.

Many Kodava elders still said that the Tiger of Mysore killed and captured hundreds of people from the Kodava clan between 1784 to 1799. The former president of the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy BP Appanna said that Tipu Sultan was a cruel king who destroyed 300 temples in the district. “He also forcibly moved thousands of Kodavas. Hundreds of Muslims in Napoklu who follow Islam with Kodava traditions and culture is a proof of the brutalities inflicted upon them,” Appanna spoked while adding that Tipu and his father Hyder Ali tried to conquer the district over 30 times but failed. “Tipu Sultan was waiting for a chance and he got that in 1785 which resulted in the massacre of Kodavas,” he claimed.

KP Manjunath, a social activist who filed plea petitions in the state high court in 2017 seeking a ban on Tipu Jayanti, contended that Tipu was not a freedom fighter and the state government has only been glorifying him for vote bank politics. Manjunath added that he was opposed to the celebrations utilizing the taxpayers’ money as Tipu was responsible for the alleged genocide of Kodavas, the forcible conversions, and the injustice towards the community.

The district administration has beefed up security to prevent untoward incidents. The officers were reportedly in a dilemma while distributing Tipu Jayanti invitations to BJP Zilla Parishad and Gram Panchayat members as per protocol reason being BJP members disrupted celebrations last year and the events had to be brought to a close in Somwarpet and Virajpet. BJP district unit president BB Bharatish said that the party would conduct protests across Kodagu from 8 to 10 November, as per the instructions of the state unit. Over 30 Kodava Samajs, various Kodava organizations and Sangh Parivar members are protesting against Tipu Jayanti this year and plan to observe a black day on 10 November.

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