‘Historical Tyrant’ Tipu Continues to be Eulogised for Votes

“Tipu Sultan is the biggest enemy of the Canara Christian community”, says Robert Rosario who is a Catholic and lives in Mangaluru. The kind of torture he meted out to my community for about 15 years is something we will never forget, he says. Between 1765 and 1780, Tipu committed untold atrocities against Catholics in the coastal region of Karnataka, and did not leave aside even women and children. Executions, destruction of their Churches, torture and confinement, were all meted out to them as they refused to convert and did not support his expansionist forays. “Thousands of Catholics were arrested and made to walk barefoot from Mangalore to Srirangapatna for six weeks, during which more than a thousand perished”, narrates Robert. 

Historical Tyrant 

Tipu’s atrocities against Madhyam Iyengars of Melukote, destruction of temples in Kodagu and Kerala, Devati Parambu massacre, forcible conversions at Ganjam, burning of Hindu houses in Kodagu and Calicut, are all well-known today. His atrocities against Christians is something many historians and politicians hide for the sake of political correctness. 

At a place called Nettanagere, Tipu and his troops executed 5000 Christians in a single day when women were also ravaged. The extent of his atrocities against the Catholics was so severe that only about 15,000 returned to Mangalore after his death in 1799 out of the 70-80,000 who had been forcibly taken to Srirangapatna. 

The elected representatives from our community never raised their voice against celebrating the tyrant due to their political compulsions. But it is sad that even the Bishops and community leaders did not raise any objections to such glorification of a despot, rues Robert. 

“The tide against the Mangalorean Catholics began to turn for the worse upon Hyder Ali's death in December 1782. Tipu took over. Now began the hardest times our Mangaloreans ancestors had to endure,” writes Alan Machado in his work Saraswati's Children - A History of the Mangalorean Christians. He further writes, “On 20th May 1783, Tipu laid siege on the Mangalore fort, since he was unable to capture it from the British. His 30,000 soldiers and carpetbaggers camped all around the fort. Nothing was allowed inside or out. In the fort were the English soldiers and 80,000 Mangalorean Christians. This siege lasted for 18 months. After the siege, the fort was finally delivered to Tipu in an armistice. But Tipu was not to be calmed down. After the British left, the remaining foreigners and "Eurasians" or "mesticos" (half Europeans, half Indians) were killed, the rest escaping to Mumbai Island. Tipu now turned his rage to the local inhabitants of the fort, the Mangalorean Christians. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. In one single day, 5,600 Mangalorean Christians were killed. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes.” This has been amply recorded in the Barkur Manuscripts which provide the necessary evidence. 

Glimpse into the atrocities of Tipu Sultan 

1. Massacre of 700+ Madhyam Iyengars at Melukote in a single day 

2. Confinement of more than 10,000 Madakari Nayak’s soldiers who belonged to the Valmiki tribe. They were tortured, executed or converted to Islam 

3. Arrest and conversion of family members of the Mysore Royal Family 

4. Killing of the Tamil speaking natives of Tanjore and Marathas. More than 20,000 taken captive 

5. Massacre, conversion and torture of Kodavas. More than 1 Lakh Kodavas were victims of Tipus’s atrocities 

6. Atrocities on Christian community of the coastal districts of Karnataka. 80,000+ captured out of which only about 15,000 are said to have survived. 

7. Murder of 4 lakh Namboodaris of Kozhikode and Nairs of Malabar. Equal number converted to Islam. 

8. More than 800 temples in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu destroyed over a period of 2 decades by Tipu and his troops. 

In his other work “Slaves of Sultans”, Alan Machado records the further atrocities he committed on the citizens of the coastal town. “Under the compulsion of state formation, Portugal’s Estado da India and Tipu’s saltanat-e-khudadad, forced Mangalore’s Catholic community into total identity changes in a span less than 300 years. While Estado da India’s carrot-and-stick methods absorbed them into its Nacao Portuguesa, Tipu forcibly stamped them with a new Islamic identity in 1784. Both attempted to replace their religion, customs and language with those of the state and make them totally dependent on it, in effect, convert them into slaves of the state.” Slaves of Sultans provides a vivid description of Canara Christian history before conversion and Tipu’s atrocities against their population. 

Tipu for ‘Secular’ Vote Bank 

Despite all historical proofs, the abhorrent practice of commemorating the tyrant was started by the Siddaramaiah regime in 2015 to appease its minority vote bank. It can be recalled that there was no demand from the Muslims themselves for a ‘Tipu Jayanti’ and this was evidence enough that the then Congress government wished to have a stranglehold on its voters by dividing the society further into different identities and micro-identities. It was the same Siddaramaiah’s government which went ahead and recommended division of Hindus and recognition of Lingayats as a separate religion, an exercise that was based on shallow research and overt propaganda. The goal here was again creating a vote bank of the Lingayats for the Congress which was in a terminal decline in the state. Last week, the Sunni Youth Forum declared that celebrating Jayanti is un-Islamic and Muslims have made no such demands. Tipu Jayanti is not even celebrated in Mosques, Madarasas, community halls or at our homes and hence it is purely a government creation said the spokesperson of the forum. When there is no demand from the community, it is but a open secret as to why the government is going ahead with Tipu Jayanti; The more the society is divided, the easier for the JD (S)-Congress combine to garner votes. 

Tipu Jayanti’s blood trail! 

When Tipu Jayanti was first observed by the government by force against the wishes of the people in 2015, it witnessed widespread protests in different parts of the state. Kodagu, which had borne the brunt of Tipu’s atrocities saw huge dissent. Jehadi forces tried to utilize the situation and had organised an unruly crowd to counter the protests and the ensuing commotion saw the tragic death of elderly gentleman Kuttappa. 

In 2016, Tipu Jayanti took the life of Magali Ravi who was murdered by Islamic fanatics near Mysuru as he had publicly opposed Tipu Jayanti celebrations. 

Subsequent years too witnessed protests in Chitradurga, Mangaluru and Bengaluru against Tipu Jayanti. But as adamant as he was, Siddaramaiah continued to grant official sanction to the events on Nov 10th every year. After he was made to bite the dust in 2018 assembly elections, one thought that such abhorrent practices would be stopped. But it seems compulsions of ‘Secular’ politics throws facts and reasons to the air. 

It is indeed a matter of grave concern that despite repeated protests against celebrating the tyrant and innumerable historical proofs of his atrocities, HD Kumaraswamy government has given a go-ahead for the event this year too. HD Kumaraswamy and his party the JD(S) which champions the cause of the Vokkaligas should not forget that even his community members were not spared by Tipu’s troops and in fact two brave brothers from Mandya laid down their lives fighting Tipu’s troops. 

No Freedom of Expression over Tipu? 

It seems HD Kumaraswamy has gone a step further ahead of Siddaramaiah’s arrogant put down of protests and has even outlawed peaceful protests. Even speaking against the tyrant has become an offence in Karnataka today. Ace Kannada writer and author Santosh Thammaiah was slapped with a case under section 295A of the IPC for speaking against Tipu Sultan at an event in Kodagu recently. Even the daily that carried the report was not spared and the police have registered a case against them too. It seems Freedom of Expression under self-proclaimed secular governments comes in all hues and is applicable only for those who tow the govt.’s line. 

Karnataka High Court in 2016 had questioned the Congress government on the rationale behind celebrating Tipu stating that Tipu was just a king and not a freedom fighter as publicized by the government and ideologically convenient historians. #TipuJayantiBeda has been trending on the social media every year showcasing the popular sentiments against the official deification of the despot. 

Though HD Kumaraswamy will not be present at the official ‘Tipu Jayanti’ function at Vidhana Soudha, one hopes that better wisdom dawns on him and he calls off any official commemoration of Tipu Sultan in the future. Tipu’s so-called acts of bravery and benevolence are purely based on superficial accounts of historians who identify themselves with the left and it would do good for any government to stay clear of such phoney historians lest they embarrass themselves later. 

Spineless Tipu was no ‘Tiger’ 

Tipu Sultan has been given innumerable monikers by the Left historians and politicians with ‘Tiger of Mysore’ being the most famous. None of the historical accounts portrays Tipu as a brave warrior, other than the atrocities he committed. He won wars only because of the help he received from the French. All of his solitary forays ended in disasters and was forced to run back. 

Debauchery, thy name is Tipu Sultan 

Records say that Tipu married for the first time in 1774 when he was 24. Later consummated innumerable number of marriages. Women he forcibly took away after his battles, were part of his harem. Even the daughter of his Diwan, Poornaiah, was not spared. 

Two Sisters of the Kodagu king, Devammaji and Nillammaji were housed in his harem. 3 daughters from the royal family of Mysore were forced into his Zenana and so were the women from the families of several palegars, chieftains, sardars and others. Other than Indian women, he also had girls brought from Turkey, Persia, Georgia for his harem. 

His lecherous ways had no bounds. Daughter of the Nawab of Savanur, who was first in the Zenana of Hyder Ali, was then transferred to Tipu’s harem. All such details of his depravity has been recorded by Captain Thomas Marriot in his book written after Tipu’s death in 1799. He mentions that more than 300 women, including his wives, were part of his harem. A eunuch was in charge of each enclosure in the zenana, describes Thomas Marriot. 

With the aim of turning the entire Southern India to Sultan-E-Khudabad, Tipu ambitiously attempted to invade the kingdom of Travancore. He had his sights on looting the wealth of Ananthapadmanabha Temple. His army was 20,000 strong and had Persian horses. He met with great resistance from a small Travancore army of 500 soldiers armed with swords, bows and arrows. When he could not lay siege in the morning, in a surreptitious way tried to attack the fort in the death of the night. 

Brave soldiers of Travancore army led by the valiant Veer Dhiwan Keshavadas Pillai fought ferociously and handed a crushing defeat to Tipu and his troops. Tipu’s leg was fractured and was almost captured but ran back towards Mysore with the help of his troops. 

This famous battle of 28th December, 1789 has been recorded as the ‘Battle of Sedum Kottai’. Tipu never attempted to venture against the Travancore fort again! 

By – Prashant Vaidyaraj

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