Was Tipu Sultan a freedom fighter or intolerant ruler? Controversy in Karnataka on birth anniversary

The erstwhile King of Mysore is widely regarded as a freedom fighter who fought the initial independence wars against the British.

Was Tipu Sultan a freedom fighter or intolerant ruler? Controversy in Karnataka on birth anniversary
Image courtesy: British Library
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Bengaluru: A controversy has erupted in Karnataka over the state government's decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of 18th century ruler, Tipu Sultan, on Tuesday (November 10).

The erstwhile King of Mysore is widely regarded as a freedom fighter who fought the initial independence wars against the British.

However, many also describe him as an intolerant king who forced Hindus to convert to Islam and also persecuted Christians.

Also Read: Tipu birth anniversary celebrations - VHP leader dies in violence

RSS and its related outfits have decided not just to boycott the celebrations but also threatened to disrupt events being held in the state today.

For RSS, Tipu Sultan was an intolerant ruler.

Also Read: CM Siddaramaiah defends decision to observe Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary

Tipu was a ruler of Mysore but he was also the most intolerant king recorded by history - "not by RSS or any other people", NDTV quoted senior RSS pracharak V Nagaraj as saying.

The BJP, which is also boycotting the celebrations, called the King a "religious bigot".

"It's a total boycott on our part, no public representative from our party at any level should participate in the official function," state BJP president Prahlad Joshi said, while describing Tipu Sultan as a "fanatic" and "anti-Kannada".

As per PTI, Mangaluru United Christian Association has also protested against 'Tipu Jayanti' celebrations, alleging he was responsible for destruction of many churches in the coastal region and harassment to Christians during his rule.

The Congress government in the state, however, has justified its decision to celebrate the day.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said only the RSS and "other communal forces" were opposing the celebrations.

"Tipu is a patriot. He fought against the British. In a sense freedom struggle began from three Mysore wars. He lost his life during the battle, and he had even pledged his son to British. RSS is unnecessarily trying to defame him, we will celebrate his Jayanti," Siddaramaiah added.

Historians, meanwhile, describe Tipu as a reformer and say he had helped restored several temples.

According to historian NV Narasimhaiah, Tipu banned liquor and also worked for upliftment of women.

Even voices in the BJP differ on Tipu.

BJP leader Abdul Azeem said, as per the channel: "Tipu Sultan was very secular and gave equal treatment to Hindus and Muslims. Not only mosques but also temples were looked after."

Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore, who was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna against the British forces.

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