A local VHP leader died and several others, including policemen, were injured as violence erupted over the holding of the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.
A youth was also injured in firing by some unidentified persons near here, police said, adding that prohibitory orders have been clamped in the entire Kodagu district and additional reinforcements sent to the area to bring the situation under control.
Police used tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge as hundreds of people gathered here and clashes erupted between the opponents and supporters of the celebrations.
According to police, one Kuttappa, a VHP leader and a former state government employee, suffered head injuries in stone throwing and died on the spot.
The violence flared up even as statewide celebrations are being held by the government for the first time to commemorate the birth anniversary of Tipu which, however, is being boycotted by BJP amidst opposition by several outfits who see him as a “religious bigot”.
Some outfits in Kodagu district had called for a bandh today to protest against the government’s decision.
Meanwhile, Home Minister G Parameshwara said additional reinforcements were being rushed to Madikeri from Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts and appealed to people to maintain peace.
BJP has announced a “total boycott” of the celebrations, saying that no public representative from their party at any level would participate in the official function.
Further, the party’s state unit chief Prahlad Joshi said that Tipu was a “fanatic” and “anti-Kannada”.
Several organisations and individuals, too, have opposed the state government’s move to celebrate ‘Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ on November 10.
Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore and considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May, 1799, while defending his fort of Srirangapatna against British forces.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has defended the government’s decision to commemorate his birth anniversary even as he slammed RSS and “other communal forces” for opposing it.
Mangaluru United Christian Association, too, has protested against the celebrations, alleging that Tipu was responsible for the destruction of many churches in the coastal region and also that Christians were harassed under his rule.