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Tipu's descendant stakes claim to property

Naheed Ataulla

BANGALORE: Asif Ali Shah is the seventh descendant of Tipu Sultan. His three children, aged between six and 15, have been deprived of a formal schooling as they have been shuttling with their parents between Lucknow, Calcutta and Bangalore for the last one decade.

Shah has been frequenting Bangalore to establish his credentials and also stake claim to the property of the ``Tiger of Mysore'' in the state.

Although a committee headed by B. Sheik Ali, historian and an authority on Tipu, was constituted by the Janata Dal government to visit Calcutta and study the economic status of the freedom fighter's descendants, nothing materialised.

In the game of one-upmanship between former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah and former minister K.N. Nage Gowda over observing Tipu's death bicentenary in April-May 1999, the committee remained on paper.

Labour and wakf minister A.M. Hindasgeri told The Times of India that the government had an open mind on Shah's claims. ``An assurance had been given by the JD government on the floor of the state assembly that he would be rehabilitated. We will consider his case on humanitarian grounds based on facts,'' he said.

Hindasgeri said he had convened a meeting of Muslim ministers, MPs and legislators a month ago to elicit their opinion on the issue. It was decided at the meeting to revive Ali's committee besides continuing with the same members.

It is learnt that at the meeting, some members had expressed their reservations over Shah's claim. He was evicted for forcibly occupying the summer palace of Tipu during the JD government.

Hindasgeri said the committee would visit Calcutta once the funds were sanctioned by the finance department. ``The committee will be given three months to submit its report once it gets the consent of the finance department,'' he added.

Meanwhile, Shah, who has set up camp with his family in Bangalore, said: ``I have decided not to return to Calcutta until the issue is resolved.'' According to him, his efforts to prove his credentials were jinxed from the beginning.

Shah claimed the former CM J.H. Patel had convened a meeting on July 12, 1999, to discuss the issue, but it was cancelled as the Election Commission announced the general elections the previous day. After the Congress came to power, he sent an e-mail to CM S.M. Krishna on January 14, which the latter forwarded to his deputy secretary ``for doing the needful''.

The e-mail said: ``Tipu Sultan is foremost among our freedom fighters. He is known for his valour. It is our good fortune that his descendants have chosen to remain in our land.''

The impetus for rehabilitating Tipu's descendants in Karnataka was given by tourism minister R. Roshan Baig in 1989. As wakf minister in the Bommai government, he wanted that just as the Tibetans had been rehabilitated in Byalukuppe in Mysore district, Tipu's descendants should also be accorded a similar status in the state.

--- The Times of India, Sunday, October 15, 2000