After the controversy around observing Tipu Sultan Jayanti in Karnataka was once again stirred up with Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde asking not to be invited for the celebrations, the descendants of Tipu Sultan have decided to pursue legal action.
The union minister called the celebrations a “shameful event of glorifying a person known as brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist” on Twitter.
However, Tipu Sultan’s descendants are not taking the comment lying down and have decided to take legal action against the union minister.
“Growing up knowing that I am a descendant of Tipu Sultan, I was proud that my ancestor was such a brave warrior who fought against the British. I have read multiple texts by historians and never has there been a mention of Tipu being a murderer or a rapist. These comments have hurt our family a lot. This issue has been politicised for two years and we are done listening to people speak lies about Tipu,” said Sahebzada Mansoor Ali, a seventh-generation descendant of Tipu.
Tipu’s kin, who are based out of Kolkata and Bengaluru, met Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy and submitted a complaint against Ananth Kumar Hegde for calling Tipu a murderer, anti-Hindu and a mass rapist.
“On October 21, Union Minister Ananth Kumar Hedge wrote on Twitter that Tipu Jayanti was a shameful event. He also called Tipu anti-Hindu, a mass murderer and mass rapist. This has deeply hurt not only our family members but also Muslims and people in Karnataka who are proud of Hazrat Tipu Sultan’s achievements as a freedom fighter. The Minister was trying to incite communal hatred. We have demanded an apology from the Minister,” Mansoor Ali added.
He said that the family will file a defamation case against Minister Ananth Kumar Hedge for his statements against Tipu.
“Tipu’s descendants were captured by the British and imprisoned for over 100 years. Our family was not allowed to enter south India during that time. Based on the books I have read and the information passed on to me from the grandparents and parents, Tipu fought against the British and he was the country’s first freedom fighter,” Mansoor Ali says.
Mansoor Ali says that the statements made by BJP leaders about the killing of Kodavas, Mandyam Iyengars and also the allegations of hurting women in the Malabar region are “falsehoods spread with the intention to defame Tipu”.
“When I was in class 9, I read a book titled ‘By the Sword of Tipu Sultan’ written by Bhagwan Gidwani. Ever since I have managed to read as many books as I can about Tipu Sultan. I have never come across any information about Tipu murdering the Kodavas. There was a long-standing rivalry between the two but just like all histories, here also there were casualties of war. There was no attempt to ethnically cleanse them. He had, in fact, held talks with the Kodavas and asked them to refrain from helping the British as he saw them (British) as the enemy,” Mansoor Ali says.
He maintains that Tipu never raped the women in the Malabar region, but implemented a policy to protect them.
“Regarding the allegations of rape of Malabar women, that is not true. At the time, the women used to wear saris without wearing blouses. He ordered that the women must be dressed modestly. Tipu did that with the intention to not hurt them in any way. At the time, he did what he thought was protecting their honour. We have to keep in mind that that people at the time were not progressive thinkers. He was no rapist,” Mansoor Ali added.
He says that the opposition to Tipu Jayanti was just the BJP’s way of polarising the people in order to safeguard votes.
“They only care about vote bank politics. We kept quiet for so long. As far as I know, Tipu was never any of the things the BJP claims. We are planning to file a request with the Central government. They have a committee for historical issues. We will ask them to probe the matter and find out if these allegations levelled against Tipu are true. We want to get to the bottom of who started spreading this false information,” Mansoor Ali said.
Voices of opposition to the celebration of Tipu Jayanti began in 2015 when the Karnataka government decided to make it a state-sponsored festival.
The BJP leaders in the state have made several anti-Tipu statements and have also carried out state-wide protests.