The BJP-ruled Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) on Wednesday allowed Tipu Jayanti celebrations at Hubli’s Idgah ground on Thursday. An application for the permission was submitted by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Samata Sainik Dal.
The decision to grant permission was taken in a meeting that was attended by all stakeholders, and members and chairperson of the civic body’s standing committee.
Besides Tipu Jayanti, the corporation also gave nod for Veerarani Onake Obavva Jayanti and Bhakta Kanakadasa Jayanti celebrations at the ground, both falling on Friday. This will be the first time that the controversial ground will be the venue for multiple events in succession. Earlier, according to the court’s order, only Muslims were allowed to offer prayers twice a year there before the Karnataka High Court But this year allowed Ganesha festival.
A press statement from the HDMC said events were allowed with certain restrictions. The organisers will have to wrap up the event between 10am and 12 noon with due permission from the police and assurance to maintain peace and harmony. The organisers have been allowed to display photos of Tipu Sultan, but barred from putting up any prospective controversial banner or image in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, AIMIM factions were divided over Tipu Jayanti celebrations at the ground. While AIMIM Dharwad district joint secretary Vijay M Guntral, who had applied for the permission, expressed happiness; AIMIM district president and HDMC member Nazeer Honyal was against organising the event at the holy place [Idgah]. He said he will bring the issue to the notice of the party’s senior leaders.
Vijay, however, told the media that despite opposition, they will go ahead and celebrate Tipu Jayanti.
Right wing Hindu activists, including Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, on the other hand are planning to stage a protest against the HDMC decision. Right wing Hindu activists consider Tipu Sultan, a 17th century ruler of Mysore kingdom, as anti-Hindu.
The previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka started Tipu Jayanti celebrations in 2016, leading to widespread protests by the BJP. In 2019, BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government cancelled the Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
After decades-long battle over the ownership of Idgah Maidan, a court had ordered that the property belongs to the corporation.
Anjuman-e-Islam had approached the court after right wing organisations planned Independence Day celebrations at the ground. The Karnataka High Court rejected the plea and ordered that HDMC, the owner of the land, can take a decision. Ganesha festival was celebrated at the ground for the first time this year.
Six people had been killed in police firing when a group of protesters led by BJP leader Uma Bharti, defying curfew, tried to hoist the national flag at the Idgah ground on August 15, 1994.