The controversy linked to Tipu Sultan has opened a veritable can of worms.
How did the Tipu Sultan Controversy star?
The controversy started when Karnataka government decided to celebrate November 10 (Tipu Sultan’s birthday) as Tipu Jayanti. People from Mangaluru, Coorg and part of Kerala protested because they considered Tipu as a tyrant who converted Hindus to Muslims. While the government decided to go ahead with the celebration, it was met with stiff opposition by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Sangh Parivar.
A VHP activist Kutappa died from injuries by the police lathi-charge, following a march by the Muslim group to mark the state government’s decision and protests by Hindutva activists. VHP organized a state-wide bandh in Karnataka on November 13, 2015 to protest the death of its member. The Karnataka police stated that Kutappa died from tripping off a 20 feet wall and not by injuries in the clash.
Girish Karnad – Tipu Sultan controversy
Jnanpith winner and writer, poet and actor Girish Karnad said that Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru should be named after Tipu Sultan. The ruling Congress government and chief minister Siddaramaiah said that the airport would not be named after Tipu and Mr. Karnad was just airing his personal point of view. Karnad’s suggestion met with criticism from many quarters. A social media post issued death threat to Girish Karnad and said that he will meet the same fate as Kalburgi, the poet who fell to the bullets of radical fundamentalists.
Karnad in his version said that he had merely suggested that it would be nice if the Karnataka government named the airport after Tipu Sultan and that he did not really demand the government to do so. He said, “It would be stupidity on my part to insist the airport should be named after Tipu Sultan. In any case, you cannot change the name of an international airport just like that.” He laughed off the death threat and said that he had met with such threats many times in his life.
Was Tipu Sultan a freedom fighter?
Tipu Sultan fought four battles against the British. He was one of the first freedom fighters of India. He was one of the first Indian kings to be martyred on the war field defending his kingdom against the British. Opinions on whether he was tolerant or a Muslim fanatic are largely divided. Tipu Sultan has been recognized as the freedom fighter by the Government of India. Pakistan also holds him in high esteem and has honored the Pakistani Navy Ship as PNS Tippu Sultan.
Was Tipu Sultan intolerant?
Though he did convert people in Kodagu and Karnataka, it would be ludicrous to benchmark the political era of 18th century with the 21st. He was a secular king in Karnataka and had actually supported the building of many Hindu temples. He did not convert anyone in Karnataka. When it came to conversions in Kodagu and Kerala, one cannot just blame him because even the British did the same thing. But having said that, one cannot compare the political dynamism of those times to the contemporary one.
A Brief History of Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan (also known as Tiger of Mysore) was the ruler of Mysore. He was born on 20th May 1750 in Devanahall, present-day Bangalore (Karnataka). He was the eldest son of the brave king Hyder Ali of Mysore. His father was a huge influence in his life, as the young Tipu observed his father wining battle after battle and becoming the Sultan of Mysore.
By the time, Hyder Ali died in 1782 from cancer, Tipu had become a heir to a large kingdom of Mysore. When his father died, he found the Second Anglo-British War successfully, forcing the British to surrender. He drew the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore with them.
Napoleon, the French military leader who later went on to become the emperor of France, sought alliance with Tipu to eliminate the British. Tipu and Hyder Ali would use the French trained army along with indigenous forces to fight the Britishers, Marathas and rulers of Kodagu, Malabar, Carnatic, Bednore and Travancore. Tipu annexed his kingdom successfully and remained a permanent enemy of the British-led East Indian Army.
In 1789, he fought against British allied Travancore in the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Tipu lost the battle and had to sign the Treaty of Seringapatnam, where he had to surrender previously won territories including Mangalore and Malabar.
Tipu Sultan died in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (May 4, 1799) fighting valiant battle defending his fort of Srirangapatna, against the British East India Company, ably supported by the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad. His burial place is in Srirangapatna.
Tipu Sultan, while being accused of religious bigotry, was known to be an able administrator. He pioneered the use of iron-cased rocket artillery in India, deploying them against the British in 1792 and 1799 wars. He also introduced his coinage, a lunisolar calendar and a new land revenue system. He was also instrumental in heralding the growth of Mysore Silk industry.
Tipu Sultan’s arms and armoury were sold by auction house for 6 million pounds (Rs 56.8 crore).
Weapons of Tipu Sultan
The Sword of Tipu Sultan (TV series)
Tipu Sultan’s life story was shown on television as ‘The Sword of Tipu Sultan’ aired on Doordarshan in the early 90s. The role of Tipu was played by Sanjay Khan, who was also grievously injured while shooting a battle-scene. The TV serial was the most expensive show of its time.