In a minor reprieve, Tipu Sultan gets his place in Karnataka textbooks

In a minor reprieve, Tipu Sultan gets his place in Karnataka textbooks
Portrait of erstwhile Mysore king Tipu Sultan

Bengaluru: An expert panel set up by the BJP government in Karnataka to look into the issue of removing chapters on Tipu Sultan from textbooks has submitted its recommendation, saying the 18th-century Mysuru ruler cannot be ignored from the school syllabus.

The Committee, comprising historians and academicians, submitted its report on December 9 to the then Karnataka Textbook Society chairman H N Gopalakrishna.

"We have recommended that Tipu Sultan cannot be ignored from Karnataka's history because it will lead to a missing link," a member of the committee told PTI on condition of anonymity.

Two reports were submitted by the committee one for textbooks of primary classes (classes 6 and 7) and another one for high school (Tenth)   a KTBS official said.

In both the reports, the committee maintained that there could have been negative shades in historical characters, which could be found in all the rulers.

"If we highlight only Tipu Sultan then we will have to portray other rulers too in a similar manner," the committee member pointed out.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had in October indicated his government's plans to remove lessons on Tipu Sultan from middle school history textbooks, saying he did not believe the controversial ruler of erstwhile Mysore kingdom was a freedom fighter.

"Tipu - we are going to drop everything and even in the textbook also (lesson regarding him) ...we are thinking to cancel," he said, days after BJP MLA Appachu Rajan demanded the removal of the lessons saying it carried "wrong information".

Ranjan alleged that Tipu had carried out large-scale genocide and conversion in Kodagu.

He even submitted a memorandum with "documentary evidence" to prove his point, following which the expert committee was constituted.

The expert panel took note of Ranjan's allegations and examined them. However, it did not find the evidence sufficient to agree with the MLA's claims, the member said.

"Leaders and people of Kodagu district have been talking about the genocide but when we look at the demographic divide now, things have changed a lot.

I won't call it genocide," another historian, who was part of the committee, said.

Soon after the BJP government came to power in Karnataka in July, it abolished the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan, an annual government event the party had been opposing since November 2015 when it was launched during the Congress rule, led by Siddaramaiah.

The BJP and right-wing organisations have been strongly opposing Tipu, calling the erstwhile Mysore king a "religious bigot."

The saffron party has also alleged that the Congress party was celebrating the birthday of a religious bigot as part of its minority appeasement politics.

The Karnataka Textbook Society will submit the report to the State government which will take a call on it, according to a panel member.