With the state government celebrating Tipu Jayanti on Saturday, the BJP in Karnataka's Kodagu district has called for a bandh. The roads of Somwarpet, Virajpet and Madikeri areas wore a deserted look and shops downed their shutters.
"No autos or taxis are plying on the roads either. The state transport buses are plying but private buses, used by most people, are not operational," a senior official with the district administration said.
CrPC Section 144 has been imposed in six districts in the state, which prohibits the assembly of more than 4 people in one area. The districts include Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Hubballi-Dharwad, Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts.
The bandh is being observed from 6 am on Saturday to 6 am on Sunday by the Tipu Virodhi Horata Samiti. "All businesses have shut operations for the day, including coffee estates. The auto and lorry unions are also with us. Only the SDPI vehicles were moving to attend the Tipu Jayanti celebrations," the organisation's President Abhimanyu Kumar told TNM.
The organisation has decided to observe November 10 as Kuttappa Hutatma Day. Kuttappa was a Hindutva activist who had died during a police lathicharge when clashes had erupted in Kodagu in 2015 on Tipu Jayanti.
"In all the taluk headquarters, we are observing today as Kuttappa Hutatma Divas. The government is alienating the people of Kodagu by celebrating Tipu Jayanti. They are instilling fear. Instead of spending money to celebrate Tipu Jayanti, the funds could have been used for reconstruction of Kodagu, which was damaged by floods," Abhimanyu added.
Supporting Tipu Virodhi Horata Samiti's decision, the BJP too decided to pay homage to Kuttappa Hutatma. BJP leaders and party workers from Kodagu district gathered at the Omkareshwara Temple in Madikeri and participated in a shanti puja, which was conducted in the name of Kuttappa. Kodagu MLA Appacchu Ranjan, MLC Sunil Subrahmanya and leaders of various Hindutva groups were also present at the temple. The police tried to disband the BJP and members of the Hindutva groups, which led to arguments between the police and MLA Appacchu and MLC Sunil, who were then detained by the police.
Around 2000 police personnel have been deployed in Kodagu alone. "This is because there were communal clashes in 2015 on Tipu Jayanti. One man died and ever since, the issue has been a very sensitive one to the people of Kodagu," Deputy Commissioner Vidya said.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who has given Tipu Jayanti celebrations a miss, had also issued an order that there would be no public procession this year. Sources in the JD(S), however, say that Kumaraswamy considers it bad luck to celebrate Tipu Jayanti when there is severe opposition to it.
Kodagu has been the hotbed for conflict related to Tipu Jayanti, and several members of Hindutva groups have opposed the celebrations, stating that Tipu massacred thousands of Kodavas during his conquests and had forced hundreds more to convert to Islam.