Bengaluru, Nov 5: It is that time of the year and the debate on Tipu Sultan is back. Despite protests from a large section of the people, especially in Kodagu and Mangalore, the government has for the past couple of years gone ahead with the celebrations of Tipu Jayanti.
The government has said that on November 10, the celebrations would take place, but there would be no processions. Further security has been tightened and the Karnataka government has requested 10 companies of the Rapid Action Force from the Centre.
When it comes to Tipu, there are mixed sentiments in the state. The Kodavas and Catholics in the state do not have even an iota of respect for him. They have been the most vocal in questioning the need of such a Jayanti, which was started by the Siddaramaiah led government in 2016.
The bitter rivalry with Kodavas
History records that the Kodavas and Tipu Sultan have had a bitter rivalry always. Tipu wanted to capture Kodagu as he felt he could use it as a gateway to Mangalore which has a port.
Not just Tipu, but his father Hyder Ali too made several attempts to capture Kodagu.
Various attempts by father and son were a failure as they found it hard to battle in Kodagu which has vast tracts of land and mountains which was very familiar to the locals.
The Kodavas who pride themselves for contributing immensely to the Indian army thanks to Field Marshal K C Kariappa and General K S Thimmaiah were good at guerrilla warfare which gave them an advantage of Tipu's army.
Tipu driven back
A Wikipedia entry suggests that the Kodavas despite being outnumbered 1:3 always managed to defeat the Tipu army. There were a couple of times that Tipu and his army managed to reach Madikeri, the capital of Kodagu, but was beaten.
The Kodavas have sworn never to bow to the Sultan.
However, Tipu once managed to capture Kodagu on one ocassion and is said to have uttered the words, "if you ambush my men, I will honour you all with Islam." The Kodavas did not take this lying down and beat Tipu and drove him back to Mysore.
Tipu by now realized that his war was going nowhere and beating the Kodavas was not easy.
He decided to offer his hand of friendship. The Kodavas made a grave error in trusting Tipu. The Kodavas were in fact happy to offer their hand of friendship as the battle against him was being won, but at a huge cost and the warriors were tired.
The Kodavas are said to have welcomed Tipu.
However, they were caught completely off guard when Tipu's men launched an attack against the Kodavas who were unarmed. He took many as prisoners.
Tipu had even sought the help of the Nawab of Kurnool to launch the attack.
Several thousand Kodavas were captured and taken to Srirangapatana where it is believed they were forcibly converted.
Stories of conversion and torture have been narrated by the Kodavas who were in captivity of Tipu.
Various historians have given different figures about the number of Kodavas who were converted. Figures range between 60,000 to 85,000.
The problem with the Catholics
In the year 1784 it was Tipu who had destroyed the Milagres Church in Mangalore. The Church, which was built in the year 1680, is a landmark in Mangalore.
Tipu had imprisoned over 50,000 Catholics on the suspicion that they were spies of the British. Many contend that there is widespread hatred for Tipu Sultan across the state which includes a large number of Catholics as well.
Several Catholics have also raised the point that Tipu was responsible for the death of nearly 4,000 Catholics. Tipu had captured the Catholics and made them walk to Mysore from Mangalore which resulted in the death of many. The Catholics till date observe one day of mourning for those who died as a result of Tipu Sultan's actions.