An image is being circulated by the right-wing on social media claiming that Karnataka High Court Judge Subro Kamal Mukherjee has called Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore from 1782 to 1799, a violent jihadi.
In the virally shared image it’s written “Karnataka High Court declares TipuSultan was a Jihadi who fought the British for his own Kingdom and was not a freedom fighter.” Also, the poster has a picture of Subro Kamal Mukherjee, former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court along with his words, “Tipu Sultan massacred and raped thousands of Hindus, forcibly converted them to Islam. He destroyed temples. Tipu Fought the Britishers for Islam, not for the independence of India. Tipu was a tyrant jihadi, not a freedom fighter.” This post is shared by many social media users with similar claims can be seen here, here, here, and here.
What’s the truth?
When we started our research, we found out that Subhro Kamal Mukherjee was appointed as a Judge in the Karnataka High Court on April 2015. He was then appointed as the acting Chief Justice of the High Court from June 2015 and in February 2016, he was appointed incumbent Chief Justice and retired on 2017 without any customary farewell. So, we deduced that the purported statement might be from that timeline and we focused on that period.
In our search we found, the Karnataka government had announced on November 2015 that the birthday of Tipu Sultan would be organised in the state and the then CM Siddaramaiah invited the BJP leaders to join the function. This was boycotted by the BJP quite expectedly.
During the celebrations, a violence broke out which led to the death of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) worker and a bystander with several others, including policemen, getting injured in Madikeri town of Karnataka.
This violent outcome led to the filing of a petition challenging Tipu Sultan celebrations in 2016 by K P Manjunatha, a resident of the south Kodagu region. The case was heard by a two member bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice R B Budhihal.
During the hearing, Subhro Kamal Mukherjee had observed “Tipu Sultan is a monarch, not a freedom fighter.” A news report regarding the same can be seen in ‘The Indian Express’ and ‘The Economic Times’ published on 2 November 2016.
We also accessed the court judgement which came on 3 November 2016 made by the Karnataka government. The court has disposed the petition stating that the celebration of Tipu Sultan’s birthday is a policy decision of the Government.
Looking at the news reports regarding the case; the judgement copy; and the public domain, in general; there are no evidences that suggest Tipu Sultan was called a ‘Jihadi’ by Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee.
The viral claim that Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee called Tipu Sultan, “a Jihadi” is false. He however called Tipu Sultan “a monarch, not a freedom fighter.”