A recent tweet by a well known journalist and writer Minhaz Merchant triggered a sense of comprehensive understanding of a long-standing controversy. As the largely talked about November 10th arises, there is yet again a sense of excitement combined with anxiety within the boundaries of Karnataka. Tipu Sultan, a ‘hero’ who emerged out of nowhere in a form of a political agenda has not only disrupted the stability of the state but has also caused an unpleasant division between citizens on the basis of history and politics.
The Karnataka state government proposed celebrating ‘Tipu Jayathi’, stating that he was one of the legendary heroes from India who fought the British to protect the country against them. A recent tweet by Minhaz Merchant stated “Tipu Sultan didn’t fight the British to help India. He fought them to save his own overlordship in South India. It was invader v/s invader.” While it is true indeed that Tipu Sultan fought a meagre number of British to safeguard his own interest, what cannot be overlooked is the vast number of Indians he has betrayed and slaughtered. There is a reason why Tipu Jayanthi is so strongly condemned by the natives of Karnataka, and here are a couple of instances from history that de-mystify Tipu Sultan’s tyranny.
The Devatti-Parambu slaughtering!
Back in 1786, Devatti-parambu was an open ground located in Kodagu. There was a long ongoing battle between the native Kodavas and Tipu’s army in association with land invasion. Tipu Sultan one day announced that he had enough of the war and was willing to develop an understanding between the natives and himself. He invited the natives for a feast, asking them to arrive without ammunitions and promising to treat them with respect. However, true to his nature, the tyrant had his own, as well as a French army hiding around the ground who at once attacked the massive gathering and slaughtered each native. The number of Kodavas massacred at the venue was more than 35,000 – including women and children. Later, he proclaimed that he had won the battle against Kodavas and that the remaining natives were to be enslaved or killed. And the state government of Karnataka proposes to celebrate this man’s birth anniversary as a state festival, a curious proposal indeed.
That was not all, the fate of the survivors of this massacre was even worse than the death. Women were raped and handed over to other Islamic office bearers. Nearly 80,000 people – including men, women, old people and children were marched from Kodagu to Srirangapattanam, subjecting them to all kinds of barbarism throughout the journey. Pregnant women gave birth to infants on the streets. Men were converted to eunuchs. Soldiers were bound by chains. Whoever tried to escape met a barbaric death, like stampede by elephants or torture. Whoever remained at the end of this vicious journey was made a soldier, and used as a part of Tipu’s army in battles to come.
Tipu Sultan devasted the beautiful land of Kodagu that is till date the leading land of ‘converted’ Islamic members. A few brave men who fought Tipu Sultan are remembered till date, such as the Maniccha brothers, Kutira Ponanna, Appacheera Mandanna, and Kanndanda Doddayya. But over their bodies, Tipu Sultan burnt down the heritage and essence of Kodagu alongside many other parts of Karnataka. He has been designated as the enemy of British, while the truth is that he joined hands with the colonisers to enhance his own stronghold in South India. There’s a reason Kannadigas oppose this ridiculous proposal to celebrate this monstrous tyrant’s birthday in Karnataka. We hope the government stops being so agenda driven and sees the tyrant for what he really was.