New Delhi: The Karnataka high court has granted eight weeks time to the state government to reconsider its decision to cancel state celebrations of Tipu Jayanti, the birth anniversary of 18th-century Mysuru king Tipu Sultan, according to a report in the Deccan Herald.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S. Oka heard a batch of public interest litigation petitions filed by various organisations seeking to quash the order by the government cancelling Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
The bench was hearing a PIL petition filed by Bilal Ali Shah, who claims to be Tipu Sultan’s descendant, and two organisations, Tipu Sultan United Front and Tipu Rashtreeya Seva Sangha, Bengaluru, who had challenged the cancellation of Tipu Jayanti as a state event.
During the hearing, government advocate Vikram Huyilagola submitted an affidavit from the Kannada and Culture Department that said that the decision was being reviewed as per the interim orders of the high court.
Submitting an interlocutory application, Huyilagola also said that the government required at least eight weeks to peruse voluminous records and literature on Tipu before issuing a fresh order.
The bench then granted eight weeks time to the state government and deferred the case to March 18. The bench also made it clear that no further time would be ceded to the state government and that, should the government reach a decision by then, a copy of the decision should be provided to the petitioners.
A mere day after the B.S. Yediyurappa led BJP proved its majority in a trust vote in the Karnataka assembly in July 2019, the government decided to impose a ban on Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
The BJP has led a campaign of prolonged opposition to Tipu Jayanti celebrations which were started by former chief minister Siddaramaiah’s Congress government in 2015. The first celebration of the birth anniversary of Tipu, a Muslim ruler who died in 1799 fighting British forces, resulted in protests and violence in the district of Kodagu district and left a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker dead.
Last year Yediyurappa announced that his government was “trying to remove Tipu Sultan’s history lessons from textbooks in the state”. Soon after his remarks, the state’s education minister S. Suresh Kumar called for the deletion of everything related to the 18th-century Mysuru ruler from school textbooks.
A panel constituted by the Karnataka government later recommended against the demand to remove content related to Tipu Sultan from school textbooks and held that it was “impossible to teach the history of Mysore without the introduction to Tipu”.
In response, the state government is mulling over teaching both “positive and negative” aspects of the Mysore king in school textbooks. In a recent press conference, primary and secondary education minister S. Suresh Kumar said that “There will not be any changes in textbooks for coming academic year, but for future changes, we have decided to constitute a comprehensive committee to take a decision on even teaching negative face of Tipu.”