Karnataka VHP leader dies in clashes over Tipu Jayanti celebrations
10 November 2015, Nirapad News: A Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist died and several others, including policemen, were injured as violence broke out in Madikeri town of Karnataka on Tuesday over celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.
Police used teargas and batons to disperse hundreds of people following clashes between opponents and supporters of the celebrations. Officials said the VHP activist suffered head injuries and died instantly.
Madikeri is part of Kodagu district, which has been tense for the past few days over the state government’s plans to celebrate the 266th birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. The VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and BJP have organised dozens of protests in Kodagu and other parts of Karnataka in the past few weeks.
Kodagu’s superintendent of police Varthila Katiyar told reporters that VHP activist DS Kuttappa died after he fell from the roof of a multi-storey hospital. It cannot be said at this point if the man was pushed over, she added.
Kuttappa died even as riots were breaking out in the streets below, Katiyar said.
Bajrang Dal leader Suryanarayana blamed groups supporting the state government’s Tipu Jayanti celebrations for the violence and Kuttappa’s death.
The statewide celebrations for Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary are being held for the first time by the government. Several groups allied to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have opposed the events, describing Tipu Sultan as a “religious bigot” who tormented Hindus.
The former ruler of the erstwhile Mysore state evokes intense fan following and hatred in equal measure.
According to witnesses and police officers who spoke to Hindustan Times on phone from Madikeri, located 300 km from the state capital, trouble started early on Tuesday morning when hundreds of people started streaming into the town to attend celebrations organised by the district administration.
At the toll gate that serves as the entrance to Madikeri, Sangh Parivar activists set up a picket and refused to let anybody go to the deputy commissioner’s office, where the celebrations were to be held.
Some 4,000 people, who had come to attend the function from nearby towns such as Moornadu, Hakkaturu, Virajpet and Kottamudi, were stranded on the outskirts of Madikeri after police barricaded the town.
According to police, clashes erupted in different parts of Madikeri by 10am. By noon, when Kuttappa died, police had a full blown riot on their hands.
State home minister G Parameshwara is expected to make a statement on the situation.