Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is partly to be blamed for the incidents which erupted in the tranquil town of Madikeri in Kodagu (Coorg) district on Tuesday over the Congress government’s decision to celebrate for the first time the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of Mysore. Siddaramaiah

 A Vishwa Hindu Parishat activist was killed and dozens of others suffered injuries as clashes broke out between two groups at General Thimayya Circle, in the heart of Madikeri, the district headquarters of Kodagu.

 According to reports, a youth suffered bullet injuries on Chettahalli-Madikeri road in firing by some unidentified persons. Prohibitory orders have been clamped in the entire Kodagu district.

 According to reports, trouble started after those celebrating Tipu anniversary took out a procession, even though the district administration had not given permission.

 This angered those opposing the Tipu event, including the BJP and other outfits who had called a Kodagu bandh. Tipu is believed to have killed thousands of Coorgs during his reign as the latter had fought against the Mysore ruler who made several attempts to capture the kingdom of Kodagu.

 The VHP activist who was killed in stone-throwing has been identified as Kuttappa, aged 50, a VHP leader and a former state government employee.

 Police fired in air and used tear gas to dispel the protestors and there was lathi charge to bring the situation under control.

IGP South B.K. Singh is camping in the district and monitoring the situation.

 EDITORIAL: Knowing the sensitivity involved in celebrating the birth anniversary of Tipu, known to be a polarising figure, chief minister Siddaramaiah should have arrived at a consensus with the various shades of political opinion.

Instead, Siddaramaiah unilaterally decided to go ahead with the celebration and blamed the Hindu outfits for the controversy. The chief minister’s comment shows his ignorance of history. Besides the people of Kodagu, irrespective of their political affiliations, even Mangalore Christians are opposed to the Tipu celebrations as Tipu had razed churches and killed thousands of Christians.

The law and order machinery failed miserably in assessing the explosive situation prevailing in Kodagu, even though the issue had received wide media coverage. The deputy commissioner of the district was on leave as the situation was turning explosive, shows the failure of the intelligence gathering machinery, the department personally under the charge of the chief minister.

 Apparently, the chief minister decided to go ahead with the Tipu event to woo the minorities. The entire exercise smacks of vote bank politics. The peace-loving people of Kodagu should not be used as pawns by the so-called secular politicians and the saffron brigade. Let peace prevail.

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