Controversy rages in Karnataka over the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad and BJP MP Prathap Simha have both recieved death threats on social media, the former for upholding Tipu Sultan as a great king and the latter for the contrary.
Online posts directed at the duo appeared even as the toll in the violence at Madikeri over the Tipu Sultan climbed to two.
Noted playright and actor Karnad, came under attack for his remarks that it would have been “apt” had the Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli was named after Tipu Sultan rather than Kempe Gowda, a feudatory ruler under the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire who founded Bengaluru in 1537.
The reaction to his statement was an alert on Twitter that he would “meet with the same fate as” rationalist MM Kalburgi, who was gunned down recently by two men at his residence in Dharwad, Karnataka.
Notably, on Thursday Karnad had apologised if “anybody has been hurt” by his views.
Security has been posted at the residence of Karnad in the wake of the controversy over his remarks.
Several organisations, particularly those connected with the dominant Vokkaliga community to which Kempe Gowda belonged to, right-wing outfits and BJP have been the source of targets.
Karnad’s controversial remark was made at the state government-organised Tipu Jayanti event on Tuesday were Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was also present.
However, Siddaramaiah had on Wednesday clarified that the government had nothing to do with the writer’s views and the question simply did not arise of renaming Bengaluru international airport.
Meanwhile, Mysuru-Kodagu BJP MP Prathap Simha, who received a threat to his life in a Facebook post, has approached Mysuru police on Tuesday night.
Simha had earlier questioned the government and the police version that local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Kuttappa had died in a fall while jumping a boundary wall and not in the row over Tipu Sultan.
The Lok Sabha MP has been severely critical of Tipu Sultan amidst claims of “persecution” suffered by Hindus under his reign.
The post on Facebook page ‘Mysuru Tiger Shahide Millat Mahan Tippu Sultan’ allegedly shows Simha’s photograph next to that of Kuttappa and threatens him with the same fate as the VHP leader if he continues to play politics by making “anti-Muslim comments”.
Police said that the cyber crime division has been asked to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, a mid-twenties youth who had sustained bullet injuries during Tuesday’s clashes in Madikeri died at a hospital in Mysuru.
Speaking to reporters, Kodagu district in-charge minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “The youth died last night, it is sad. So, two of them have died due to the unfortunate incident (Madikeri clash) that happened on Tuesday.”
Karnataka government has announced an inquiry into the Madikeri violence by the Regional Commissioner in Mysuru.
Further, on Thursday BJP demanded the Karnataka chief minister’s resignation claiming he was unable to handle the law and order situation following the death of two persons in the Madikeri violence.
The party also took a swipe at Congress chief Sonia Gandhi only a week after she and her party took to the streets and led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan in protest of the growing climate of intolerance in the country and accusing PM Modi of “endorsing” incidents of hate.
“Chief Minister Siddaramaiah must resign. Two persons have died and he has not been able to handle the law and order situation. Will Sonia Gandhi go to Bengaluru and march against this? Will she demand Siddaramaiah’s resignation?” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told the Press.
He also sought a probe into the death threats made against Karnad and its MP Simha. And expressed concern that no arrest has been made in the murder of rationalist M M Kalburgi.