Kodagu/Bengaluru: Protesters are steadily gathering against the Karnataka government-sponsored celebrations of the birth anniversary of 18th century ruler and anti-colonial hero Tipu Sultan this week but officials hope heavy-handed precautionary measures will deter violence.

Tipu, who ruled the kingdom of Mysore, is admired by supporters as an anti-colonial icon but derided by opponents as anti-Muslim, and last year’s event ended in violence that resulted in the death of two people and injuries to several others in police action.

This year, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has prepared for Thursday’s event by nearly shutting down sensitive regions, which include Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu where Tipu is believed to have massacred thousands of people, destroyed religious places and used forceful conversions, restraining media reporting and deploying police in huge numbers.

In the epicentre of mounting protests, Kodagu, a district in South Karnataka bordering Kerala, supporters are being brought in from outside to showcase strenght of supporters and opposer’s, according to three lodge managers. All of them requested anonymity fearing repercussions.

Police has taken note of increased political activity, said Kodagu superintendent of police Rajendra Prasad.

Kodagu district has around 1,000 policemen who will be deployed all over the district apart from members of rapid action force on Thursday, he said, adding that they are not ruling out issuing prohibitory orders or calling up additional force if needed.

Police have also issued an advisory suggesting television channels exercise ‘restraint’ and ‘sensitivity’ while reporting the celebration, Press Trust of India reported on Saturday.

“These provocative news reports and programmes may cause disaffection amongst the members of public, igniting communal tensions resulting in serious law and order situation in the State of Karnataka specifically in Bengaluru city," the advisory said.

Also Read: Karnataka govt prepares to mark Tipu Sultan Jayanti amid opposition protests

“It has become a highly polarised atmosphere," said Sandeep Shastri, a Bengaluru-based political analyst and pro-vice chancellor of Jain University.

While the government feels it is important to declare emphasise its secular credential through the celebrations, the opposition wants to turn the public sentiment against the government, he said.

Tipu Sultan, known as the Tiger of Mysore for his fierce armed opposition to British colonial rule, is being portrayed by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Karnataka as a religious bigot who led a virulent and repressive anti-Hindu regime.

Karnataka BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa said that the party would hold protests across the state on Tuesday.

“We will be holding protests across the state on 8th November against the adamant decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti amidst killing of youths belonging to Hindu organisations and even in the wake of an atmosphere that has been created recently in Karnataka, where murders are taking place in the way it used to happen in Kerala and Tamil Nadu," Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru on Sunday, as per PTI.

Last week, a resident of Kodagu lodged a public interest petition in the Karnataka high court seeking a ban order on the celebration, but the court refused to entertain it.

“The sentiments in Kodagu are against the celebrations," Brijesh Kalappa, a spokesperson for the Indian National Congress (INC) told Mint last week. “Even the Kodavas (community ) concede at some level that he is a genuine national hero. Now we cannot go back to the medieval ages to correct historical wrongs," he said.

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