During Tipu's campaigns to Coorg, he carried out a systematic depopulation of this region. Around 40000 to 50000 people were captured and shipped off to Srirangapatna, where they were converted to Islam. The men were forcibly circumcised while the women were abducted into harems.
Congress leader and Mumbai Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh inaugurated new facilities at the Malad Sports complex with the TIPU (Mysore Ruler) prefix on 26 January 2022. The Congress leader blamed the BJP, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad' goons' for the protests that followed. Most importantly, he claimed that there was no conflict in India over the name of Tipu Sultan for 70 years; and the garden is named thus for the last 15 years.
To recall, the controversy needs to be traced to 2015 Karnataka politics, when the Congress Government officially declared to celebrate 'Hazrat Tipu Sultan Jayanti'. Protests broke out and heated debates by leaders of Congress and BJP. While the Congress Party justified the "Secular Credentials" of Tipu Sultan, BJP highlighted the barbaric atrocities committed by Tipu Sultan on the Hindu's.
As usual, there is excessive politicization over the issue. Consequently, the actual realities get obfuscated. Distorted remains for the future generations to know the truth.
In a tweet, VHP's Shriraj Nair had said the renaming of a sports complex in Mumbai after 'barbaric ruler' Tipu Sultan was an attempt to disrupt the communal harmony in Maharashtra, a 'Sant Bhoomi'. The BJP has slammed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVD). Devendra Fadnavis, former chief minister of BJP, seized the opportunity to slam the Shiv Sena for honouring "Tipu Sultan" and demanded the MVD to revoke the name of Tipu Sultan. Ironically, Shiv Sena workers also protested over naming the Mumbai sports complex after Tipu Sultan.
In the first response, Aditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, who is a guardian minister for the Mumbai suburban district in which Malvani is located, told reporters that no such decision had been taken by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which Shiv Sena controls.
Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena supremo and Maharashtra Chief Minister, who claims to be the sole champion of the ideology of Hindutva, is under scrutiny for his claims to Bal Thackeray's Hindutva ideological commitment. The NCP Supremo, Sharad Pawar, is on a muted note. Why?
Naturally for Sanjay Raut, acerbic Shiv Sena spokesperson, to question BJP Hindutva credentials. He has challenged: "President Kovid went to Karnataka and praised Tipu Sultan that he was a historical warrior, freedom fighter. So, will you ask for the President's resignation too? BJP should clarify this. This is a drama."
Raut also stated: "BJP thinks that only they have knowledge of history's knowledge. Everyone's sitting down to write a new history, these historians are here to change history. We know about Tipu Sultan, we don't need to learn from the BJP". And the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra is capable of making decisions.
So, what is the reality of Tipu Sultan's credentials as a "Secularist and freedom fighter"? High time for Shiv Sena, led by Sanjay Raut, commission a research team of historians to provide the true perspective of Tipu Sultan's atrocities against his enemies and innocent civilians, including women and children, to future generations and make its political stand clear.
Let me first provide a brief historical perspective of Hyder Ali's rise to power and Tipu Sultan rule. Hyder formed the first Indian-controlled corps of sepoys armed with firelocks and bayonets and backed by artillery served by Europeans. Hyder received an independent command in Mysore in 1749. Eventually, he displaced Nanjaraj, the prime minister, and made Raja a prisoner. About 1761, Hyder Ali proclaimed himself absolute ruler of the Mysore Kingdom and started military campaigns to expand the territory of the state.
Hyder Ali expanded the kingdom's borders at the expense of the Maratha Empire and Nizam of Hyderabad (among others). The Major Battles fought by Hyder Ali against the Marathas include Battle of Rutehalli Fort (1764); Battle of Sira and Madgiri; Battle of Chinkurli (1771); and Battle of Saunshi (1777). In 1767 Tippu commanded a corps of cavalry of his Fathers army against the Marathas in western India's Carnatic (Karnataka) region. He fought against the Marathas on several occasions between 1775 and 1779.
Tipu Sultan succeeded his father in December 1782 and, in 1784, concluded peace with the British and assumed the title of the sultan of Mysore. After the Second Anglo-Mysore War, Tipu Sultan sought to keep offensive moves by the Marathas at bay. Marathas had established a military alliance with the ruler of Hyderabad with a common purpose of recovering territories both had lost to Mysore in previous conflicts. He fought major battles against the Marathas, including Siege of Nargund, February 1785; Siege of Badami, May 1786; Siege of Adoni, June 1786; Battle of Gajendragad, June 1786; Battle of Savanur, 10 October 1786; and Siege of Bahadur Benda, January 1787. The Battle of Gajendragadh was fought between the Marathas and Tipu Sultan from March 1786 to March 1787, in which Tipu Sultan was defeated by the Marathas, thereby extending the border of the Maratha territory to the Tungabhadra River.
The Maratha-Mysore War ended after the final conflict during the siege of Bahadur Benda in January 1787 and later settled for peace with the kingdom of Mysore, to which Tipu Sultan obliged with the signing of the treaty of Gajendragad in April 1787. As per the treaty of Gajendragad, Tipu released Kalopant and returned Adoni, Kittur, and Nargund to their previous rulers. Badami would be ceded to the Marathas. In return, Tipu would get all the places that they had captured in the war, including Gajendragarh and Dharwar. The Marathas would also address tipu by an honorary title of "Nabob Tipu Sultan, Fateh Ali Khan". Tipu would also pay an annual tribute of 12 lakh per year to the Marathas.
Subsequently, in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, the Maratha Empire allied with the East India Company in the Battle of Seringapatam. Ultimately, Tipu Sultan died in the battle.
Ipso facto, Tipu Sultan remains a complex puzzle and an enigma for the majority. This is despite the availability of records of Tipu's own commands and those of British and French writers. Tipu Sultan waged wars to spread his kingdom and his religion, just like his contemporaries and those before him. How can Tipu Sultan be considered a freedom fighter?
Can the MVD government and its spokespersons like Sanjay Raut deny Tipu's Jihadi tendencies ranging from calling his kingdom 'Sultanat e Khudadad' to renaming cities like Mysore Calicut, Chitrapur and Devanhalli to Nazarabad, Islamabad, Farukh ab Hissar and Yusufabad?
Also, the inscription on Tipu Sultan sword is available (four swords are in permanent display in two renowned Museums in London): "My victorious saber is lightning for the destruction of the unbelievers. Haidar, the Lord of the Faith, is victorious for my advantage. And moreover, he destroyed the wicked race who were unbelievers. Praise be to him, who is the Lord of the Worlds! Thou art our Lord, support us against the people who are unbelievers…."
Furthermore, Tipu Sultan replaced Kannada with Farsi as the official language. Under his rule, it was declared that mosques were to be built at the expense of the state in villages that didn't have any. Large tax reliefs were handed out to people who converted to Islam. Tipu's harem included 333 women, the majority of whom were originally Hindus. Among them were two sisters of the Raja of Coorg, the wife of Tipu's treasurer and the daughter of Kalopant Pethe, the diwan of Vyankatrao Bhave of Nargund. When Dharwad was seized from the Marathas, a number of women were also captured along with the fort.
As per John Wilks, a resident at the Wadiyar court, Tipu's atrocities during the Malabar campaigns - forced conversions, circumcisions and forcible feeding of beef – were recorded in the 'Sultan ut Tawarik'. Wilks wrote, "The destruction in the course of this holy war, of eight thousand idol temples, many of them roofed with gold, silver, or copper, and all containing treasures at the feet of the idol, the whole of which was royal plunder…."
In the 'Sultan ut Tawarik', Tipu goes on to express joy over the large number of people he has managed to convert during his conquest of Malabar. In a letter to Burduz Zamaun Khan, he puts the number at 4 lakh. In a letter to Syed Abdul Dulai, he wrote, "With the grace of Prophet Muhammad and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are now converted to Islam. Only a few are still not converted on the borders of Cochin State. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as Jihad to achieve that object."
In retrospect, no wonder Kerala is now the hotbed of Muslim radical churning.
Next, James Scurry, a British soldier who was imprisoned in Srirangapatna for a period of 10 years, wrote a memoir after managing to escape that "…Hindus were driven, to the number of 30,000, to Srirangapatna, …Their daughters were many of them beautiful girls, and Tipu was determined to have them for his seraglio, but this they refused; and ……………… This being done, the officers tied their hands behind them. Their noses, ears, and upper lips were cut off; they were then mounted on asses, their faces towards the tail, and led through Srirangapatna, with a wretch before them proclaiming their crime."
In 1790, a British officer James Kirkpatrick wrote, "Since Tipu assumed the government, he removed, from the Biddinore and Sonda countries, about 70,000 Christian inhabitants, who were cultivators of the ground, by which revenues of these countries sustained a great loss."
During Tipu's campaigns to Coorg, he carried out a systematic depopulation of this region. Around 40000 to 50000 people were captured and shipped off to Srirangapatna, where they were converted to Islam. The men were forcibly circumcised while the women were abducted into harems. The Kodavas, along with the people of Kerala, were the strongest opposers of 'Tipu Jayanti'.
Francois Ripaud was a French sailor who had stayed in Mysore during Tipu's reign. His descendants discovered his diary in Paris in the late 20th century. He wrote therein, "…In his repeated attacks on Malabar, Tipu devastated the warrior Nairs with his atrocities and religious intolerance…" "… (In Calicut) most of the Hindu men and women were hanged. First mothers were hanged with their children tied to their necks. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammedans."
In 1790, Tipu ordered the massacre of 800 Mandyam Iyengar Brahmins of the village of Melukote, an important centre of learning and Srivaishnavism, on the day of Narakchaturdashi. To this day, the Mandyam Iyengar community does not light a single lamp on Diwali since it is observed as a period of mourning.
Judging by Tipu Sultan's own commands and the British officer, soldiers and French Sailor versions available in historical records covering Tipu's brutal and barbaric atrocities in the name of religion, how can he be a national hero? Can the recorded versions found in foreigners' diaries that illustrate Tipu Sultan's fanaticism and cruelty be treated as "fake and fraud" news? How can they be simply brushed under the carpet for decades in the quest for secularizing him and squeezing him into the mould of a freedom fighter?
Surprisingly, Shiv Sena claiming to be the sole champions of the Maratha pride has not to date restored the names of places like Pune, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, etc., to their original Hindu names! Even their postures are cosmetic means for political ends.
In sum, there is a need to provide a balanced historical perspective concerning Tipu Sultan. Based on recorded historical evidence available. Surely, there is no justification for naming "Tipu Sultan Maidan" in Mumbai. People of Maharashtra must slam the Shiv Sena as an ally of the Congress Party to allow such an event to take place. As a party, the Shiv Sena can no anymore lay claims to represent the "Sons of the Soil" or champions of Hindutva.
In all fairness, my earnest plea to civil activist historians – Maratha and Karnataka – to carry out in-depth research and provide an accurate picture of atrocities by Tipu Sultan. Rewrite true history for the benefit of future generations instead of endless politicization!