Source: The New York Times
NEW DELHI — Tension between Hindus and Muslims flared anew in India on Tuesday when a Hindu nationalist in the southern state of Karnataka died from injuries he suffered while protesting a celebration honoring an 18th-century Muslim ruler.
The celebration, in the town of Madikeri, honored the birth of Tipu Sultan, who was killed on May 4, 1799, while leading a battle against British troops who had come to crush his rule over a wide section of southern India.
The death of the protester comes amid rising sectarian violence, most of it directed at Muslims by Hindus. For weeks, right-wing Hindus in Karnataka have been pressuring the government to cancel the event, arguing that Tipu Sultan was a Muslim tyrant who slaughtered Hindus or forcibly converted them to Islam. But the government refused, prompting Hindu nationalist groups to protest on Tuesday.
Suresh Bopanna, a police official in Madikeri, said the presence of Hindu protesters alarmed local Muslim leaders, and soon after truckloads of Muslims began to arrive in force. The two groups clashed, stones flew and the police charged in to break up the melee.
One Hindu activist, a farmer named Kuttappa, ran from the scene and sought safety atop a wall, police said, only to be struck by a stone, which sent him crashing to the pavement 20 feet below. Doctors said Mr. Kuttappa suffered a skull fracture and was dead on arrival at a hospital.
At least 20 others, including six police officers, suffered minor injuries, officials said, and police officers rushed in reinforcements to restore order. “At present, the situation is under control and peaceful,” Vartika Katiyar, a police superintendent, said in a telephone interview early Tuesday afternoon.