Mangalore’s Catholics Join Hands With RSS Over Tipu Sultan

The government’s controversial decision to celebrate Tipu Sultan birth anniversary has certainly given the opposition BJP a big political platform from where to attack the ruling Congress party in Karnataka. Now there are reports that many of Mangalore’s Catholics are joining hands with the RSS in opposition to government’s plans vis-à-vis Tipu Sultan.

Putting behind the recent memory of the 2008 church attacks, some Catholics are enthusiastically joining hands with the RSS and the Bajrang Dal against an ancient foe — Tipu Sultan, says a Hindustan Times report.

The Sangh organised protests across the state against the Siddaramaiah government’s decision to celebrate Tipu’s 165th birth anniversary on November 10. The government, however, went ahead with the birth anniversary celebrations of the controversial erstwhile ruler of Mysuru, leading to communal clashes at many places in Karnataka.

Widespread dislike for Tipu among Catholics

On November 6, the United Christian Association (UCA) had held a protest outside the deputy commissioner’s office in Mangalore and showed their support for the Sangh’s agitation against Tipu.

Speaking for the UCA, Alban Menezes told HT that Tipu in February 1784 had destroyed the Milagres Church in Mangalore, built in 1680. Menezes said Tipu had also imprisoned 60,000 Catholics, suspected of being British spies. The organisation had also joined the Sangh in 2013 to oppose the naming of a central university in Srirangapatna after Tipu.

Franklin Montiero, formerly a Hindu Jagarana Vedike president and state vice-president of the BJP minority morcha, said there is widespread dislike for Tipu among Catholics in coastal Karnataka. “The Congress wants to pit one minority against another. This is shameful. Tipu was the one who sowed the seeds of communalism here,” he said.

Montiero, now the RSS’ south Karnataka coordinator, led another demonstration of Catholics against Tipu in Mangalore last Monday.

According to the report, some Catholics in the Congress are also not happy with the decision to celebrate Tipu’s birthday as a state festival. Mariamma Thomas, general secretary of the Congress’ Mangalore block, said, “Around 4,000 Catholics died when Tipu captured them and made them walk all the way to Mysore. Even today, we observe mourning for those Tipu killed in various parts of Mangalore.”

Interestingly, the second time the Milagres church was attacked was on September 14, 2008 — the Bajrang Dal and the VHP had claimed responsibility for the incident.