Tension was brewing in the coffee district of Kodagu in India’s Karnataks state after a local Hindu leader died and several others, including policemen, were injured in violence over the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.

Karnataka police baton-charging BJP workers protesting at madekeri
Karnataka police baton-charging BJP and VHP workers protesting in Madikeri Tuesday

In a separate incident, a youth was injured in firing by some unidentified persons, police said, adding prohibitory orders have been clamped in Kodagu district. Additional reinforcements are being sent to the area to bring the situation under control.

Police fired tear gas shells and resorted to baton-charge Tuesday as hundreds of people gathered in  Madikeri and clashes erupted between the opponents and supporters of the celebrations.

According to police, Kuttappa, a local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and a former state government employee, suffered head injuries in stone throwing and he died instantly.

Celebrations are being held by the Congress-led government of Karnataka to commemorate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan.

The BJP  is boycotting the celebrations as they view Tipu Sultan as a “religious bigot”.

Earlier, some outfits in Kodagu district had called for a bandh Tuesday to protest the government’s decision.

State home minister G Parameshwara said additional reinforcements have been rushed to Madikeri from Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts. He appealed to people to maintain peace.

BJP has announced a “total boycott” of the celebrations, saying that no public representative from their party at any level would participate in the official function.

Further, the party’s state unit chief Prahlad Joshi said Tipu was a “fanatic” and “anti-Kannada”.

Besides BJP, several organisations and individuals have opposed the state government’s move to celebrate ‘Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ on November 10.

Mangaluru United Christian Association has protested against the celebrations, alleging that Tipu was responsible for the destruction of many churches in the coastal region and harassing Christians.

Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore (now Mysuru) and he was considered a tough enemy by the British East India Company.

He was killed British forces in May, 1799, while defending his fort in Srirangapatna.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has defended the government’s decision to commemorate his birth anniversary.

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