Two persons, including a Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist, were killed as clashes took place in Madikeri town of Karnataka over celebrations of the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, Hindustan Times reported.
According to the police, the VHP leader and a former state government employee, suffered head injuries in stone throwing and died on the spot.
A local VHP leader died and several others, including policemen, were injured as violence erupted over the holding of the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.
A youth was also injured in firing by some unidentified persons near here, police said, adding that prohibitory orders have been clamped in the entire Kodagu district and additional reinforcements sent to the area to bring the situation under control.
Police used tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge as hundreds of people gathered here and clashes erupted between the opponents and supporters of the celebrations.
The violence flared up even as statewide celebrations are being held by the government for the first time to commemorate the birth anniversary of Tipu which, however, is being boycotted by BJP amidst opposition by several outfits who see him as a “religious bigot”.
According to an Indian Express report, the violence took place between a Muslim group which took out a procession as part of ‘Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ celebrations, and Hindutva activists protesting against the celebrations. The clashes are said to have taken place place in Madikeri town.
BJP has accused CM Siddaramaiah of trying to appease the minorities with the celebrations and has also opposed the setting up of a university named after the ruler, reports The Times of India.
“We’ll hold protests across the state till 10 November,” VHP state secretary TAP Shenoy said in a statement, reported ABP News. “We are deploying Bajrang Dal cadres to educate people on how this government is spending the taxpayer’s money to honour a ruler who tormented Hindus.”
Meanwhile, Home Minister G Parameshwara said additional reinforcements were being rushed to Madikeri from Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts and appealed to people to maintain peace.
BJP has announced a “total boycott” of the celebrations, saying that no public representative from their party at any level would participate in the official function. Further, the party’s state unit chief Prahlad Joshi said that Tipu was a “fanatic” and “anti-Kannada”. Several organisations and individuals, too, have opposed the state government’s move to celebrate ‘Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ on 10 November.
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 of Srirangapatna against British forces.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has defended the government’s decision to commemorate his birth anniversary even as he slammed RSS and “other communal forces” for opposing it.
Mangaluru United Christian Association, too, has protested against the celebrations, alleging that Tipu was responsible for the destruction of many churches in the coastal region and also that Christians were harassed under his rule.
Madikeri falls under the Kodagu district which has been protesting against the issue over the past few days. The VHP had earlier called for a bandh in the state on Tuesday, according to another report in The Times of India.
In September, reacting strongly to media reports that Rajinikanth may star in a biopic on Tipu Sultan, leaders of various parties BJP, Hindu Munnani, and the Hindu Makkal Katchi held a protest and warned the actor against accepting the offer.
(With PTI inputs)