No amount of sanitizing by Left historians can turn the Islamic zealot into a ‘secular’ ruler’
It has been a fashion of late to eulogize the criminals of history, and none has been as much ‘revered’ as the notorious Sultan of Mysore.
It was almost just seventeen years ago his sword was about to flash through the mini screen of Doordarshan, perhaps once again to terrorise the new generation of Indians whose predecessors this savage in human form tortured beyond description. The maker of this serial, the actor-director Sanjay Khan for the venture drew upon Bhagwan Gidwani’s monumental travesty of a novel called The Sword of Tipu Sultan which was a blatant falsification of documented history. But it is no travesty of fact that Sanjay Khan’s grandfather, Sir Mirza Ismail, Dewan of the princely state of Mysore for fifteen years from 1924 to 1940, even as he was a regular attendant at the Mysore Maharaja’s palace cared little to visit throughout his life time Tipu’s mausoleum which stood within Mysore’s close proximity. Reason why he shunned Tipu’s tomb at Srirangapattanam? Sir Mirza Ismail replied bluntly and curtly: “Tipu Sultan was a namak-haraam” – ungrateful.
A flashback to Tipu’s penurious beginning! He was not born into the purple. His father, Haider Ali was an orphan, employed at Mysore Maharaja’s palace as a cow-herd. Though illiterate, Haider was a military genius who knew the three R’s of war – ruthless, relentless and remorseless. He joined the Maharaja’s army and became a commander. But proving himself ungrateful to the salt he ate, he set aside his patron and mentor and usurped the throne the very moment he became powerful. He was so much an incarnation of ungratefulness that he later repaid the generosity of the Maharaja by getting his grandson strangled. But having doubted his own competence, Hyder never dared to occupy the Mysore throne publicly for fear of popular condemnation. And his spark of conscience that reproached him for his gross ingratitude to his patrons forbore to persecute the Hindu Maharaja’s family though he deprived it of its wealth and authority.
But Tipu had no such qualms. Soon after he succeeded his father in December 1782, he assumed the title the Sultan of Mysore and kept the Maharaja’s family members as virtual prisoners with some of them either brutally killed or converted to Islam. The cruelty he inflicted on the descendants of the Mysore king was so much beyond all limits of inhumanity that it often led to the verge of popular discontent. Much harsh measures were unleashed against such popular outbursts. He massacred the Hindus, kidnapped their women folk and forcibly converted their orphan children to Islam. The recruits from such converts constituted Tipu’s army units, the Chela battalions.
Tipu has been falsely decked with the epithet, the Tiger of Mysore. He was the most cowardly of all the rulers of Indian history. In 1792, to escape the sure death at the hands of the hard-riding Maratha cavalry, he surrendered two of his sons, Abdul Khalik and Moiz-Ud-Din, to the British army which lay entrenched with the Peshwa’s forces at Srirangapattanam’s gate. None has ever heard of a tiger surrendering its cubs to secure its own safety. No ruler in history has ever made such a disgraceful bargain. Unlike his father who stormed the gates of Madras carrying fire and sword during the first Mysore War, Tipu was timorous. But to escape from timorousness he unleashed the carnage against the innocent and helpless people, especially the Hindus. It was on such an occasion i.e. in the battle of Nedumkotta near Thrissur, Travancore’s Army General, Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai, in an ambush, killed many soldiers of Tipu along with his army general, and struck Tipu with his sword off his palanquin, wounding him and making him permanently lame. This military ambush and the flooded Periyar River forced him to retreat. Yet this man, the victim of many defeats has been eulogized by the ignorant as the Tiger. He was only a paper tiger with an alleged heroism whose death in 1799 was the result of despair, and not of heroism.
Historical facts about Tipu go to expose him as a fanatic monster. He kidnapped the daughter of the Desai of Nargund after assuring him of his family’s safety. Tipu had his best imitator in his Governor of Coorg who excelled even his master in kidnapping. His Governor kidnapped the daughter of Mannuthi Nair and the protesting Hindus were terrorised and tortured by Tipu’s soldiers. His hatred of the Indian languages made him replace Kannada and Marathi as the official languages of administration with Persian which even Muslims were ignorant of.
Tipu ordered large scale forceful conversion of Hindus to Islam in Raichur, Coorg and Malabar. He ordered money grants to those who left Hinduism and Christianity for Islam. Tipu made no secret of his agenda to form an Islamic state. In 1972 he ordered, only Muslims should be appointed district magistrates and by the time he died in 1799 all the 37 district magistrates were Muslims, some of whom were ignorant. In his fanatical orgy he named Mysore as Nazarabad and Calicut, Feroke which revived their old names after his time, leaving small locality in each city to know by the name Tipu gave. In his characteristic style Tipu humiliated his Hindu Dewan, Poornaiah by kidnapping his niece and forcing him to remain at Srirangapattanam against his wishes. This was how Tipu showed sincerity to Poornaiah whom his father Haider, seeing him indispensable, selected as Dewan. This usurper was nothing other than namak-haraam and white-washing him would be an assault on India’s history.
Perusal through some of Tipu’s correspondences would suffice to expose the Jehadi nature of his military campaigns. Sardar K. M. Panikker in a write-up in Bhasahposhini published some of Tipu’s letters to his military commanders which the Sardar had gone through in the library of India House at London when he was doing his research. (Bhashaposhini, Kottayam August-September, 1923 issue, quoted in Tipu’s Atrocities on Hindus and Conversions as revealed in his own letters’ by O. Rajagopal, Organiser, New Delhi, 25 March 1990.) Look to what he wrote to his army commander in Kozhikode. “Mir Hussain Ali is sent … along with two attendants. With Allah’s grace he will reach there shortly. Along with him you must either imprison or kill all the non-believers. Take into custody all men under twenty years. Not less than five thousand of them must be hung from the trees. This is my order”. (Letter dated 14 December 1788) Another letter directs: “Sending 242 Nair prisoners … Convert them to Islam and give 6ft long cloths to men and 8ft long cloth and a blouse each to women.”
In another letter addressed to Abdul Khader of Kodengeri (2 March 1789) he wrote: “More than twelve thousand non-believers have been converted to Islam. There are some Namboothiris also among them. These things must be made known to the non-believers of the respective places. They must be called and asked to embrace Islam. Do not let out the Namboothiris. They must be told to wait till the arrival of special dresses for them”. Another letter dated 18 January 1790, addressed to Abdulla said: “With the help of Mohammed and the grace of God, we have succeeded in converting almost all non-believers in and around Calicut to Islam. Now only some people residing near about Cochin state border remain to be converted. I have decided to convert them also into Islam. I look upon this as religious war.”
Atrocities Tipu unleashed on the Hindus beggar description. To quote V. D. Savarkar, “Millions of Hindus from Dharwar to Travancore were horror-stricken and hundreds of men and women from all castes and sects of Hindu society, feeling thoroughly incapable of facing this armed attack of the Mulims preferred death, by drowning themselves in the Krishna and the Tungabhadra, to all the indignities and atrocities of Muslim vandalism. Hundreds of others leapt into the fire” to avoid conversion and torture. To carry out massacre and mass conversion of the Hindus Tipu formed a special division of his army which surpassed all other Muslim soldiers in enormity and vandalism. He manned it by the pick of the bitterest enemies of the Hindus and most lovingly called them his own sons. Of these loving sons those who did the exceptionally brutal acts of ravaging Hindu women, forcibly converting Hindu families, plunder and arson or the wholesale massacre were rewarded with the most beautiful of the thousands of captured Hindu girls. No wonder, Tipu was honoured as Ghazi by the world of fanatics.
But the fanatical atrocities of Tipu earned him the wrath of the Marathas who were duty-bound to defend the Hindus. What followed was an avalanche of Maratha forces on Tipu’s state. Peeved at the news of Maratha army advancing against him, and extremely annoyed, Tipu maliciously attacked the Hindu states of Nargund and Kittoor. Both the states fell successively. What followed were easy to imagine, taking Tipu’s characteristic style of operation. The moment Nargund fell, Tipu like a hungry wolf, rushed straight to the ruler’s palace, his Muslim army burning and plundering the citizens and their houses. Brutal humiliation was inflicted on the women of the palace. “The young and fair ones of the royal ladies were first put to inhuman torture and then brutally ravished. Tipu locked in his harem the exceptionally beautiful young lady from the royal family and took her to his capital.” What happened in Kittoor too was no less fanatical savagery.
By the time, the Maratha forces under the leadership of Sardar Patwardhan, Phadke, Behare Holkar, Bonsle and other chieftains routed Tipu’s army on different fronts and drove him back to Mysore where they rounded up him in tight grip. As the strokes of the Maratha swords and the thrusts of their spears began to make bloody incisions on the back of Tipu’s religious fanaticism, the devil in him began to relent and his haughtiness began to temper down. The readers of history know well how he negotiated for his precious life!
He was so much a defeated man during the end of his life so that he had to please the Hindus, their gods and the Brahmins to appease the Marathas and to win back the support of the Hindus. He eye-washed the public with munificent grants to Hindu temples. He had even new idols ceremoniously installed in the temples he once outraged against and desecrated. The fanatic in his fear and superstition requested the Brahmins, paying them large sums of money, conduct prayers for his success against Marathas. He paid homage to Sankaracharya of Sringeri and sought his blessings to avert calamities. He attended the chariot festival of the Hindu Gods at Kanchi, walking in the festive procession. With his own hands he ignited the fireworks to heighten the festive spirit of the occasion. Trapped in penury and hunger even the original tiger would be humbled to eat the grass. Then what to speak of this paper tiger? His end was the most gruesome, having eaten many humble pies and finally courting the dastardly and bloody death. But nothing could answer to the woes the Hindus of South India suffered due to this fanatic. Their groaning in helplessness and desperation still reverberates in the annals of India.
<blockquote><strong><em>Tipu ordered large scale forceful conversion of Hindus to Islam in Raichur, Coorg and Malabar. He ordered money grants to those who left Hinduism and Christianity for Islam. Tipu made no secret of his agenda to form an Islamic state.