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Tippu Sultan bi-centenary celebrations

Rangayana theatre troupe of Mysore presented a play
SRIRANGAPATNA: On May 15th, Rangayana theatre troupe of Mysore
presented a play 'Tipuwina Kanasu', Dreams of Tipu. The play
was directed by Basawalingaya and the Script was written by Dr. Girish Karnad.

Bi-Centenary Celebration of Tipu Sultan
Srirangapatnam : Governor Khurshed Alam Khan inaugrated the year-long
Tipu death bi-centenary programme, organised by the State Government.
The mega stage was erected and the mural paintings below by artist Shiva
and his team. Photo : Azmathulla Shariff.

The Karnataka government observed the occasion with multifarious programmes. A 70-member committee had been set up six months ago, that was headed by Deputy Chief Minister, Mr. Siddaramaiah. Mr. R Roshan Baig, minister of state for Tourism and Wakfs, Mr. Nage Gowda, minister for major irrigation who hails from Mandya district (Srirangapatana constituency) and Ms. Leeladevi R Prasad, minister for Kannada and Culture were among the prominent members of the committee.

The occasion became an issue with Hindutva lobby and ran into rough weather with the threats from Bajrang Dal to disrupt the functions. They held that Tipu had forcibly converted many Hindus to Islam and hence such a person didn't deserve any tribute. However, the threats didn't have much impact on the event. While the government issued stern warning, the Congress had condemned the threat. The BJP too did not cooperate with the hate-selling lobby.

What was more shocking was the way in which the government underplayed the event. Rs. 55 lakh was sanctioned for the functions out of which, Rs 15 lakh was to be utilised for constructing roads in Srirangapatana. The official function was first scheduled for May 4 but could not come off. Reason cited was that preparations were not adequate. But then there was long silence. The people were informed about the official function on the morning of the May 15 when all leading dailies carried half-page advertisements. It was said the programme was botched up due to differences between Siddaramaiah, Nage Gowda and Roshan Baig.

The advertisements boasted of having invited many prominent personalities including Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry. The other names included that of cine-star Sanjay Khan and many leaders from the state. It is said that invitations were shot off only the previous day and perhaps the authorities only completed the formality of sending formal invitations.

The programme went on in a hotch-potch manner. Mr. Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Kerala minister for Local Administration, was the only dignitary from outside Karnataka. Except for the stage that contained some paintings and pillars reflecting the heritage of Karnataka, nothing seemed worthy of the 55 lakhs. Contrary to expectations, only Chief Minister J H Patel, Governor Khurshed Alam Khan, Roshan Baig, Nage Gowda, Leela Devi R Prasad and Paloli Mohammed Kutty were the dignitaries present on the dais. The list of absentees includes Deputy CM Siddaramaiah, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and H K Patil and BJP leader K S Eshwarrappa who were all invited. Two prominent Swamijis from the state Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji of Sutoor Veera Simhasana Mutt, Mysore and Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Maha Samstana dominated over the show. All leaders spoke at length about Tipu's secular credentials. None of the Muslim representatives were invited. Shockingly, a majority of the committee members were not even aware of the functions.

A thin crowd of 2,500 participated in the function. Security was beefed up in view of the Bajrang Dal threat and as many as 1,600 policemen were pressed into service. No trace of the militant outfit could be seen in and around Srirangapatana creating doubts about the seriousness of the threats.

The bi-centenary celebrations that was making news since four months ago was a two-hour affair. However, the only good gesture was the sanctioning of Rs 2 crore for building a Tipu Memorial Residential School at Srirangapatana by the chief minister. Governor Khurshed Alam Khan who spoke on the occasion congratulated Patel for the same. He said that it was nice to see that after 200 years of negligence, Tipu was at last remembered. He stressed that the proposed school should give equal importance to Urdu and Kannada languages. He urged the state government to form a research committee that can look into the contribution of the great warrior and clear misunderstandings about historic facts.

Mysore Swami Lauds Tipu's Fight: However, in a citizen's ceremony held at Tipu's mausoleum in Gumbaz on May 7, the chief swami of Mysore's JSS Mutt, Shri Shivaratri Deshkendra Mahaswami Suttur Mutt regretted that the government could not organise the bicentenary ceremony in a befitting manner. He said Tipu laid down his life for the nation. Had he succeeded in rooting out the British in 1799, the nation would have been celebrating the 200th anniversary of independence. He lamented the decline in patriotic feelings among Indian citizens and said the Indian politicians were plundering the nation and lacked the integrity of the former rulers. While referring to the contributions made by Tipu Sultan Shri Shivaratri Deshkendra Swamiji of Suttur Math said "What better example one needs, that Tipu Sultan gave away his two sons as hostages to the Britishers in order to secure peace and wellbeing of his people; go down into the history and see a single such example" then you will understand what a great martyr he was. Recalling that Tipu had imposed total prohibition on Mysore, the swamiji said the most befitting commemmoration of Tipu's death bi-centenary would be to introduce nation -wide prohibition.

Father Joseph Roy, bishop of Mysore, informed the gathering that Tipu Sultan had requested the Bishop of Goa to dispatch missionaries to carry out religious duties and teach rituals to the common worshippers. He regretted that none of the Mysore's streets or squares were named after Tipu Sultan. SRIRANGAPATNA: On May 4th, Moulana Abdul Karim Parekh inaugrated Hazrat Tipu Sultan Research Centre at near Gumbaz. Moulana Abdul Karim Parekh addressing the gathering at Srirangapatna, Ganjam on May 8, 1999

--- Islamic Voice