Sanjay Khan, yesteryear actor who played Tipu Sultan has said that historian Ramachandra Guha is wrong in opposing the state celebration of ‘Tipu Jayanti’ in an interview with the TOI published on Wednesday.
Khan quoted famous historian William Dalrymple along with other historians who think that Tipu was majorly a leader who united Hindus and Muslims against the British while the East India Company tried to portray him as a communal leader for their convenience.
“They were angry with him because he was the last Indian king who resisted the British – Tipu fought ferociously to save his kingdom, part of today’s India,” he said.
Guha argued “Tipu Sultan was an 18th century ruler. In the 18th century there was no India, there was no Karnataka. That's one reason why the government of Karnataka should not have organised a formal official celebration for Tipu Sultan's birthday."
Khan also disregards the idea of Tipu being anti-Hindu, citing research done by writer Bhagwan Gidwani on the matter. Incidentally, Gidwani’s father was a Hindu Mahasabha leader, one of the groups that are protesting against the Karnataka government.
He added, “Our history must be celebrated as it gives us an identity for the future. India is full of heroes and heroines, kings and queens – does this mean we close our history and not show 800 years of Muslim rule or the great Gupta and Mauryan empires?”
The state government of Karnataka led by CM Siddaramaiah decided to celebrate the Mysore ruler’s birthday as a state festival, which sparked protests by VHP and BJP and caused tensions in some parts of the state.
Sanjay Khan directed and acted in the tele-series “The Sword of Tipu Sultan” which was aired on national television in 1990 and was based on the life and times of the 'Tiger' of Mysore.