Karnataka bans gatherings in Shivamogga after clash on Savarkar Poster

Police at the scene in Shivamogga

Bengaluru:

A man was reportedly stabbed in Shivamogga district, Karnataka, as two groups clashed over a banner bearing the likeness of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, whom the BJP considers one of its greatest icons. Reports said one group put up the banner and another took it down and attempted to replace it with a poster depicting Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler who fought the British and was killed in the fourth Anglo-Mysore War.

Shortly after, the police came and confiscated the poster. They also had to use batons to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control. Officials installed the national flag where the poster was placed.

Prohibition orders prohibiting large gatherings were imposed in the area and additional forces were called in.

“We imposed Section 144. The tension increased so we resorted to lathicharge. We tried to dismiss the mob. We are checking if he was stabbed for the same issue,” said Laxmi Prasad, a senior police officer in the region.

The man who was stabbed is being treated at a nearby hospital. The police said he is stable.

Celebrating Tipu Sultan has become controversial in the state, with the BJP and its ideological kin Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh calling him a brutal king who persecuted Hindus and Christians, especially those who refused to convert to Islam.

The former Congress government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birthday was violently opposed by the people of Coorg, where he had his kingdom.

The violence follows yesterday’s controversy over a state BJP government advert which omitted the picture of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and included Vinayak Savarkar.

As the BJP said it was a deliberate move, Congress leaders claimed it was politically motivated. The party said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai did so to distract from the leadership change issue and demanded that he be sacked.

Sara H. Byrd