BENGALURU: Tipu Jayanthi, the birth anniversary of ruler Tipu Sultan, was celebrated across the state on Saturday, albeit in a dull manner and amidst tight security as several leaders chose to skip the celebrations while protestors held sway in many other cities and towns.
In Bengaluru, in the absence of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who had earlier indicated that he would not be attending due to health reasons, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara also chose to skip the main event organized in Vidhana Soudha. Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar then stepped in and inaugurated the event along with Food and Civil Supplies Minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan.
Meanwhile, in Madikeri, the Tipu Jayanthi Virodhi Samiti began a protest by remembering Kuttappa, Vishwa Hindu Parishad member who was killed in Madikeri in 2015 Tipu Jayanthi riot, after offering puja at Omkareshwara Temple in Madikeri. The protesters then shouted slogans against Tipu and state government. Over 100 protesters were later arrested by Rapid Force and police. Meanwhile, Tipu Jayanthi celebration at Madikeri Fort began with BJP leaders shouting slogans against Tipu. People’s representatives and a few Madikeri taluk panchayat Officials were stopped by cops at the Madikeri Fort entrance as they did not posses invites. They were, however, let in after much protests. BJP MLA Appachu Ranjan and MLC Sunil Subramani took seats on the Dias at the ceremony in Madikeri Fort auditorium. However, MLC Sunil Subramani took over the mike even before the inauguration of the ceremony causing unrest at the auditorium. Following this, BJP members were escorted out of the auditorium by police force and were later taken into custody. Prohibitory orders have been put in place in several areas in the district.
Protesters in Mangaluru were also taken into preventive custody. JDS legislators BM Farooq and Bhojegowda skip event. BJP leader Franklin Montheiro, over 60 right wing Hindu activists who tried to enter event venue taken into preventive custody.
In Shivamogga, prohibitory orders were enforced across the city and the Kuvempu Ranga Mandira turned into a fortress on Saturday. District Minister and JD(S) leader D C Thammanna, who was scheduled to inaugurate the event, skipped it. BJP legislators were also absent. In Karwar and Yellapur as well, several people were taken into preventive custody for carrying out rallies and protests.
Elsewhere in Kolar, Kalaburagi, Ballari and Hassan, the functions started late but went off peacefully.
Police have also detained BJP workers led by MP Prahlad Joshi heading towards Mini Vidhana Soudha in Hubli to protest against Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
The Karnataka government had brought the state under a thick security blanket amid threats of protest by the BJP and many Hindu outfits over the celebration of Tipu Jayanti.
Calling Tipu a "religious bigot", the state BJP unit had urged the JDS-Congress coalition government to drop its decision to celebrate the Jayanti.
As a precautionary measure, prohibitory orders had been clamped in many districts of the southern state.
No processions, either in favour or against the event will be allowed, officials said.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in districts like Kodagu and Chitradurga, coastal regions among others, where local communities are opposed to the celebrations.
In Kodagu district, which was marred by widespread protests and violence during the first official celebration in 2015, Tipu Jayanti Virodhi Horata Samithi has called for a bandh Saturday.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker Kuttappa had died in Kodagu district during the clash that erupted during the celebrations in 2015.
Superintendent of Police of Kodagu Sumana D Pannekara told reporters that the situation was peaceful so far and security arrangements have been made to ensure that no untoward incidents took place.
She said no one would be allowed to forcefully shut shops and business establishments.
"Around 500 police personnel along with officials have been deployed in and around Vidhana Soudha (Bengaluru). DCPs of different zones in the city will be in charge of security in their respective jurisdiction.
"About 15,000 police personnel will be manning the city," Bengaluru Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar said.
Kumaraswamy had in a statement on Saturday hailed "Tipu's progressive measures in administration, his quest for innovation are commendable".
He also stated that as he was taking rest on doctor's advice, he was unable to take part in the programme.
"It is unnecessary to add special meaning to it. It is also far from truth that he (chief minister) is not taking part due to the fear of losing power, as he opposes such blind beliefs," the statement said.
It is the first Tipu Jayanthi celebration after the Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) coalition government came to power in the state.
The previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah observed Tipu Jayanthi on November 10 every year since 2015, amid stiff opposition by the BJP and several Hindu organisations.
Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore and considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company.
He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.
Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe that thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.
He is also accused of execution of Mandayam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Deepavali, as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.
However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.
While BJP and some Hindu organisations sees Tipu as a "religious bigot" and a "brutal killer", few Kannada outfits call him "anti-Kannada", citing that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.
(with inputs from PTI)