Tipu Sultan
Tipu SultanCreative Commons

Stoking up a fresh controversy amidst protests and violence in parts of Karnataka on Tuesday over the celebration of the birth anniversary of 18-century ruler Tipu Sultan, writer and playwright Girish Karnad has called for Bengaluru airport to be named after the erstwhile king of Mysuru. 

Karnad made his statement during the official celebration of Tipu's birth anniversary by the Karnataka government at the Vidhan Soudha on Tuesday. 

Tipu Sultan, who ruled Mysuru (earlier Mysore) between 1782 to 1799, is considered a contested figure in history, with many calling him a freedom-fighter and others accusing him of atrocities against Hindus. 

Stating that the airport in Mumbai has been named after Shivaji Maharaj, Karnad called for the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru to be named after Tipu Sultan.

"Airports have been named after Subhash Chandra Bose, and in Mumbai it is named after Shivaji Maharaj, but the Bengaluru airport is named after Kempegowda. While Kempegowda deserves all respect as the founder of Bengaluru, he was not a freedom fighter. The Bengaluru airport should be named after Tipu Sultan," Girish Karnad said, according to local news channel Tv9Kannada. 

Karnad also said that the Bengaluru airport is located in Devanahalli, which is the birthplace of Tipu Sultan. 

"If Tipu Sultan was a Hindu, he would have been given the same stature as Shivaji Maharaj enjoys in Maharashtra," he said. 

Karnad's statement is likely to draw ire from groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party, which boycotted the Karnataka government's celebrations on Tuesday on Tipu Sultan Jayanti.