BENGALORE: A Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist and a bystander died and several others, including policemen, were injured as violence broke out in Madikeri town of Karnataka on Tuesday over celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.
Police used teargas and batons to disperse hundreds of people following clashes between opponents and supporters of the celebrations. Officials said the VHP activist suffered head injuries and died instantly.
Madikeri is part of Kodagu district, which has been tense for the past few days over the state governments plans to celebrate the 266th birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. The VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and BJP have organised dozens of protests in Kodagu and other parts of Karnataka in the past few weeks.
Kodagus superintendent of police Varthila Katiyar told reporters that VHP activist DS Kuttappa died when he was being chased by police during the clashes. He allegedly slipped and fell when he tried to escape by climbing a wall.
Raju, a man who was being treated at the state-run district hospital for the past three days, was watching the violence from the hospitals terrace when he slipped and fell to the ground and died, Katiyar said.
BJP leader Pralhad Joshi described the deaths as state-sponsored murders while Bajrang Dal leader Suryanarayana blamed groups supporting the state governments Tipu Jayanti celebrations for the violence and Kuttappas death.
The statewide celebrations for Tipu Sultans birth anniversary are being held for the first time by the government. Several groups allied to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have opposed the events, describing Tipu Sultan as a religious bigot who tormented Hindus.
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