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Court questions Karnataka’s Move to Celebrate Tipu Jayanti, says Mysore ruler was not a Freedom Fighter

Though Tipu was born in 1750 at Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, his kingdom's capital was at Srirangapatna near Mysore

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Mysore Ruler Tipu Sultan, Flickr
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Bengaluru, November 2, 2016: Observing that erstwhile Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan was not a freedom fighter, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday questioned the state government’s move to celebrate his birthday on November 10.

“What is the logic behind the state government’s decision to celebrate Tipu’s birth anniversary (Jayanti) as he was only a king and not a freedom fighter,” asked Chief Justice S.K. Mukherjee hearing a PIL against the event.

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Known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu Sultan ruled the Mysore kingdom from 1782-1799 succeeding his father Hyder Ali.

Though Tipu was born in 1750 at Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, his kingdom’s capital was at Srirangapatna near Mysore.

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Mukherjee and Justice R. B. Budhihal sought response of the state government to the PIL, which claimed that Tipu was a monarch who fought against the British to protect his own kingdom.

[bctt tweet=”K.P. Manjunathja of Kodagu had filed the PIL opposing the state government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti.” username=””]

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Defending the celebration, public counsel M.R. Naik told the bench that Tipu was a great warrior who also fought against the British rulers.

Challenging the state government’s move, petitioner’s counsel Sajan Poovaiah said Tipu was a tyrant ruler who killed hundreds of people belonging to other communities, including Kodavas, Konkanis and Christians during his 17-year rule.

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At this, Justic Mukherjee noted: “Even the Nizams and other monarchs of then princely states across the country fought against the British during the 18th century and the 19th century to safeguard their own interests.”

The ruling Congress began celebrating Tipu’s birth anniversary since last year, which led to violent protests by the right-wing organisations in the Mysore region.

Opposition BJP and pro-Hindu organisations like RSS have threatened to stage protests against the event, as Tipu was a “religious bigot and violent sultan”.

Manipal Global Education Chairman and former Infosys Director T. V. Mohandas Pai also slammed the state government’s plan to celebrate Tipu Jayanti, saying it amounted to celebrating the birth anniversary of Aurangzeb, the 17th century Mughal Emperor, perceived as a tyrant and a religious fundamentalist.

“The state government, instead, should celebrate the birth anniversaries of benevolent rulers like the Wodeyars of Mysore and their Diwan (Prime Minister) Mirza Ismail,” said Pai here on Tuesday.

Accusing the government of playing politics over Tipu Jayanti, Pai said celebration of such a ruler would dived the people as Tipu had killed people of different communities and forcibly converted people to Islam.

“I am a Konkani and feel offended that the state government is celebrating somebody (Tipu) who did wrong to both communities,” he said.

Pai also said that Tipu butchered Coorgis and Christians in Kodagu and Kerala and destroyed Konkani temples near Sultan Bathery and Kasargod (in north Kerala). (IANS)

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Udham Singh: The Untold Story Of Man Who Avenged A Massacre

Shaheed Udham Singh was 20 years old at the time of the massacre

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Shaheed Udham Singh was the braveheart who avenged the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.
Shaheed Udham Singh was the braveheart who avenged the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.

By Ruchika Verma

  • Udham Singh was the freedom fighter who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre
  • He travelled to many countries to gain support for the independence of India
  • Udham Singh dies in 194o after shooting Michael O’Dwyer

If you know about the violent and brutal Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, there are high chances you know about Udham Singh too. Udham Singh was the man who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre by shooting down Michael O’Dwyer, the man who supported the firing at the Jallianwala Bagh on 13th April 1919.

Udham Singh was the man who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Wikipedia.org
Udham Singh was able to escape the Jallianwala Bagh massacre alive. Wikipedia.org

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre – The most brutal killing of innocent people

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre was the result of brutal firing on innocent people, who had assembled in the Jallianwala Bagh for a peaceful protest against the arrest of various Freedom Fighters under the Rowlatt Act.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was the result of the arrest of freedom fighters, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew under the Rowlatt Act which was already facing a widespread protest from around India. This arrest added fuel to the fire, making people angrier.

Also Read: Shaheed Udham Singh: A Patriot Who Avenged Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

The widespread anger of people scared the British government and the General Reginald Dyer, who was the head of British administration at that time, imposed a ban in public gatherings.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre is still considered one of the brutal killing of people.
Jallianwala Bagh massacre is still considered one of the brutal killing of people. The statue here is built in remembrance of all those who died during the massacre.

This is, however, one side of the story. The day of 13th April is the day of Baisakhi. Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh was famous for its Baisakhi Fair which many people from far off villages come to attend. Many outsiders who came to attend the much-celebrated fair, were unaware of the ban.

When General Dyer got to know about this, he closed all the exits to the Jallianwala Bagh and opened fire on all the people present in the park, without any warning.

Panic-stricken public caused a stampede, trying to run and save their lives by climbing the walls or jumping into the well. The British army kept on firing till they ran out of ammunition. The whole of the Jallianwala Bagh bathes in the blood of innocent people that way. Hundreds were killed and thousands were injured during this incident.

Jallianwala bagh incident happened in Amritsar, Punjab on 13th April 1919. Wikimedia Commons
Jallianwala Bagh incident happened in Amritsar, Punjab on 13th April 1919. Wikimedia Commons

One of the man present during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was Udham Singh, who got deeply scarred by what happened.

Udham Singh – How he became a freedom fighter 

Shaheed Udham Singh was 20 years old at the time of the massacre. After the Jallianwala Bagh incident, he got involved in the arms resistance movement that was unfolding all around the globe. In the early 1920s, he travelled to East Africa, where, after working as a labourer for a brief while, he made his way to the USA.

There, in San Francisco, he came into the contact of the Ghadar Party. It was a revolutionary movement started by the immigrant Punjabi-Sikhs to gain India’s independence from the British.

Udham Singh spent next few years of his life, travelling across America and securing support for their movement. He collaborated with many aliases such as Ude Singh, Sher Singh and Frank Brazil.

Udham Singh was 20 years old when Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened. Wikimedia Commons
Udham Singh was 20 years old when Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened. Wikimedia Commons

In 1927, he came back to Punjab. There he was arrested for the possession of illegal arms and for running the publication, Ghadr di Gunj. He was jailed for four years till 1931. During the four years he spent in jail, Brigadier-General Dyer died after suffering from a series of strokes.

When Udham Singh was released in 1931, he was under close surveillance because of his close contact with Bhagat Singh’s Republicans, who by that time was hanged due to the Lahore conspiracy. He somehow managed to escape to Germany, after forming alliances with Kashmir.

Udham Singh and his Revenge 

Udham Singh reached England in 1933. His aim was to assassinate Michael O’Dwyer, who he held responsible for the brutal Jallianwala massacre. O’Dwyer had justified the massacre, calling it a “correct action”. In London, he made allies with socialist groups while working as a carpenter, mechanic and painter.

Udham Singh appeared in movies as well. Udham Singh movies include Alexander Korda’s ‘Elephant Boy’ and ‘The Four Feathers’ in which he worked as an extra.

Shaheed Udham Singh during his trial.
Shaheed Udham Singh during his trial.

However, the freedom fighter, Shaheed Udham Singh didn’t forget his purpose. When he learnt that Michael O’Dwyer will speak at a meeting in London’s Caxton Hall on March 13, 1940. He sneaked into the hall that day with a revolver sneaked in his jacket. He shot O’Dwyer twice as after the meeting concluded and he was ascending down the platform.

Also Read: 15 unknown facts about Shaheed Bhagat Singh 

He was immediately taken into custody and did not try to flee or resist the arrest.

During his trial, Udham Singh gave his name as Mohammad Singh Azad, which was also tattooed on his arm. It was a symbol, meaning that all religions in India were united in their efforts against the British rule.

Shaheed Udham Singh died on 31st July 1940 after being prosecuted for the murder of Michael O'Dwyer. Twitter
Shaheed Udham Singh died on 31st July 1940 after being prosecuted for the murder of Michael O’Dwyer. Twitter

He was sentenced to death and was hanged on July 31, 1940 at London’s Pentonville Prison. Udham Singh was buried there in the prison grounds.

In 1974, Shaheed Udham Singh’s remains were exhumed and returned to India before being cremated at his birthplace, Sunam village in Punjab.

Today, there is a place known as Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand which is named after the braveheart who sacrificed his life to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.