Tipu Jayanti: Heavy security in many parts of Karnataka

Bengaluru: Kodagu, Mangaluru city and Bengaluru among other regions of Karnataka turned into a fortress from Thursday night with large deployments of police personnel including prohibitory orders in Kodagu district to avoid any untoward incident on Friday following the celebration of Tipu (Sultan) Jayanti in the state.

The Siddaramaiah led Congress government has decided to continue with its plans to celebrate the birth anniversary of the 18th century ruler, one of the first to fight against the British East India Company, despite opposition from many sections of the society, especially from right wing groups.

Since 2015, when the state government decided to celebrate Tipu Jayanti officially, right wing groups, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have opposed any glorification of the erstwhile ruler of Mysore.The conflict arising due to the varying historical accounts of how Hindus were treated under his rule from 1782 to 1799.

Bengaluru police commissioner T.Suneel Kumar on Thursday said that around 11,000 police personnel which includes 30 Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) and 25 City Armed Reserve (CAR) platoons were deployed across Bengaluru to maintain law and order across the city.

However, any procession ‘for or against’ Tipu Jayanti has been disallowed, Kumar added.

About 1,500 security personnel (including 13 platoons of KSRP and 20 platoons of District Armed Reserve (DAR) will man the streets of Kodagu—considered as the epicentre of the opposition to the erstwhile ruler of Mysore—and the police have banned the sale of liquor as well as issued prohibitory orders across the district , Rajendra Prasad, Superintendent of Police of Kodagu — 250 kms from Bengaluru—on Thursday told Mint.

The Kodavas, a local community native to Karnataka, say that Tipu Sultan was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their community members during 18th century’s rule in the state of Mysore and also that the ruler had used torture and tyranny to convert people to Islam in the district.

The district which borders Kerala, has a large population of Kerala Muslims and the Coffee growing region has seen both minority and majority groups share a tense equation in the region due to past conflicts. Two people had died as a result of clashes ensuing over the celebration of Tipu Jayanti on 10 November 2015.

Mangaluru city will have close to 900 security personnel, including one platoon of RAF. Senior police officials said that they have also made preventive arrests in the city which will host one government programme to mark Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary. However, Dakshina Kannada, one of the most communally sensitive regions of Karnataka, have asked respective police stations to maintain vigil, law and order across the district.

While the right wing organisations call Siddaramaiah’s decision to celebrate the 10 November as Tipu Jayanti as ‘appeasement for votes’, the Congress alleges that the BJP are trying to use the day to propagate their divisive agenda.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking beyond caste equations in Dakshina Kannada district and trying to consolidate the fragmented Hindu votes and isolating the minorities (Muslims) in the run up to next year’s elections.

But Siddaramaiah has been clear not to let BJP have their way as Muslims make up a significant portion of his AHINDA (acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) support base which helped him storm to power in 2013.