Exorcising the ghost of Tipu Sultan

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Exorcising the ghost of Tipu Sultan

The Congress tradition of rediscovering the past by elevating tyrants to the status of heroes for vote-banks will not pay political dividends any more

Tipu Sultan was born on November 20, 1750. But the Congress Government in Karnataka has declared November 10 as Tipu Jayanti. Tipu, deceitfully imprisoned the Wodeyar of Yaduvansha and took over the kingdom. Historians point out that soon after, on November 10, on the auspicious occasion of Deepavali, Tipu massacred 800 Mandayam Iyengars of Melkote while raping and taking hostage women and children.

Mandayam Iyengars have never celebrated Deepavali after this carnage and observe mourning during the festival. One wonders if the Jayanti was moved from Tipu’s actual birth date to the date of the massacre, just to add salt to the injury of a community  which is not big enough to gain political capital for the Congress?

Tipu Sultan destroyed 8,000 Hindu temples and built mosques in their place in several parts of south India. He attacked and plundered Chitradurga’s historical Utasavamba temple, Ekanatheshwari temple, Sampige Siddeshwara temple. Before Tipu, his father, Haidar Ali, had killed the brave ruler of Chitradurga, Madakari Nayaka and his family members and had looted the treasury.  In the Malabar region, Hindus were forced to hide the murtis of Triprayar temple when Tipu’s attack was certain. The murtis were reinstalled after Tipu left the Malabar region.

Forty thousand unarmed Kodavas of Devatti Parambu in Madikeri were mercilessly killed after they were deceived into participating in a ‘peace’ meet organized by Tipu. Until then, the brave Kodavas had been successful in driving away Tipu everytime he attacked. The Kodavas, who were taken prisoners, were forcefully converted and inducted into the ‘Ahmadiya Army’.

In the coastal belt of Mangaluru, Tipu destroyed 25 of 27 churches. The Bavutagudde masjid and several other masjids in Mangaluru were built on the remnants of the churches he destroyed. A town in Bantwal, where thousands of Christians were murdered by Tipu is called ‘Nettara Kere’, which means ‘Lake of Blood’.

Padmanabha Menon, a historian, noted in 1934, that Tipu offered two options to the people he attacked; one was the Quran and the other was death by the sword. Does the indifference of the Congress Government to the hurt sentiments of Mandayam Iyengars, the Nayaka community, Mangalore Christians, Madikeri’s Kodavas, stem from the fact that they are minorities when compared to the Muslim population in the State and, hence, not vote-banks ?

It is a documented fact that Tipu was a womanizer. When Tipu was killed, Captain Thomas Marriott recorded that there were 333 women and servants, including women ‘belonging’ to his father Haidar Ali in the zanana or ‘women’s quarters’.

Women were raped and taken hostage during conquests.  Princesses from the royal families of Mysore, Coorg and Chitradurga were forcibly sent to his zanana. During attacks, even pregnant women were slaughtered mercilessly.  In the Indic war tradition, followed since ancient times, women were not treated as a spoil of war; captured women were sent back honorably to their respective families. But Tipu followed no such tradition. Would a feminist or an advocate of gender equality consider these heinous acts worthy of forgiveness; would they support the honouring of this tormentor of women every year?

Tipu started a new calendar and a new era, called Mauladi era, which started from the date of birth of Prophet Mohammed. The names of the months in his new calendar were Ahmadi, Bahari, Taqi, Samari, Jafari, Haidari, Khusravi, Dini, Zakri, Rahmani, Razi, Rabbani. Land holding documents and the titles of administrative officials were also named in Persian. Only Muslims were appointed as chiefs of all the provinces. He exempted Muslims from paying taxes but heavily taxed Hindus and Christians and confiscated their lands.

Tax revenues sank during his time due to large-scale corruption by his administration, tax exemptions to Muslims and new converts to Islam and his constant war-mongering with neighbours.

During Haidar Ali’s and Tipu’s rule, Dasara celebrations were stopped. It is said that Hindus started the tradition of ‘Bombe habba’ or the display of traditional dolls at homes at this time in order to continue Dasara festivities.

The Persian language was imposed as the official language of the state by Tipu, thereby replacing Kannada. His obsession with Persian caused major impediments to his administration as most of his officials were illiterate or lacked knowledge of Persian. He renamed several places with Persian names.

If Madikeri became Jafarabad, Devanahalli became Yousufabad, Mysuru became Nazarabad and so on. Laughably, he sometimes gave the same Islamic name to two different places, causing confusion. Despite such evidence, does the conscience of the Congress leadership and Kannada activists permit them to recognise a bigot’s birth anniversary barely 10 days after Rajyotsava?

Cultural genocide is the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language etc, which make a group of people distinct from other groups. Tipu Sultan’s onslaught on local culture is a text book case of cultural genocide. If Mao, Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot presided over human genocide in the 20th Century, Tipu Sultan presided over a genocide in south India in the 18th Century.

If one were to measure his actions on the parameters of modern-day values of freedom of religion, human rights, democracy, secularism and gender equality, Tipu would not be eligible on any count as a torch-bearer of liberty and equality but would qualify as an enemy of humanity. He was definitely not a freedom fighter and much less a non-violent or a just ruler. If Tipu can be described in a few words, ‘Jihadi tyrant’ would be perfect.

Tipu has left behind a community that is proud of his war against infidels. Sadly, they have forgotten their Hindu roots, the injustice that he meted out to their ancestors and the circumstances under which he forced them to convert. Some youths look up to him as an icon and are inspired to stray into terror organizations such as the Popular Front of India and the Islamic State. They don’t realize that they have become the mainstay of some political parties which misuse them.

A man, who has left such a perverted legacy behind, cannot be celebrated by any civilized society. The only intent behind celebrating a tyrant’s birth anniversary is vote-bank politics by a frustrated and dying political entity, the Congress. It is absolutely necessary to end this tradition of elevating tyrants of the past to the status of heroes. It is also important to revisit history, condemn every enemy of humanity and exorcise their ghosts from the present.

(This is the concluding part of a two-part series on Tipu Sultan)

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