From countering moral policing to standing up to the culture of ‘Talibanisation’ here, the ideals and actions of Rani Abbakka can serve as an inspiration to the women in the district, said writer Sara Aboobacker, during the inauguration of the annual Veerarani Abbakka Utsav held in Ullal on Sunday.
“There are so many atrocities on women, and harassment by society that asks women to keep to their houses and to be in the service of the man of the house. Similarly, there is moral policing where girls are told to act a certain way. Tulu women here do not oppose this, and this is disappointing considering that this is the land where Rani Abbakka rode a horse and led her army into battle against the Portuguese,” she said at the Utsav, which in its tenth year celebrations, seeks to create awareness about the 16 century queen.
Further, referring to the raid by right-wing activists and the police on an ice cream parlour here, where girls who were smoking were taken to the police station in the city on January 30, Ms. Aboobacker said: “It seems like the police have not read the Constitution before joining the force. Women should oppose incidents like this vehemently. There is a dire need here to learn pride and bravery, and the desire to fight for women’s rights from Rani Abbakka.”
She said it was unfortunate that the acts of Abbakka, and other queens such as Chand Bibi of the 16 century Bijapur sultanate and Razia Sultan from 13 century Delhi were documented by foreign historians and not Indian historians.
“They are being sidelined in communally-motivated textbooks,” the writer alleged.
Commenting on the controversy behind the naming of a University after Tipu Sultan, Ms. Aboobacker said: “Tipu died for the country, and yet certain individuals attempt to sully his name. Though the British gave him the title of ‘Mysore Lion’, the title is not seen in textbooks here. As citizens of Karnataka, it is our duty to honour Tipu by naming the University after him,” she said.
Responding to this, BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said as “historians were still debating Tipu, it would be inappropriate” to make judgments of his character. On the issue of moral policing, he said: “Rani Abbakka fought for freedom. But does freedom mean the freedom to drink beer or doing drugs?”
With the Veerarani Abbakka Utsava Samithi, Ullal, who organised the programme, putting forth their demand for naming the Mangalore International Airport after the queen, Mr. Kateel said he would rather want Mangalore port to be named after Rani Abbakka and airport after U. Srinivas Mallya.
The programme also saw the launch of a CD elaborating on the acts of Rani Abbakka, and was preceded by folk dances of the region.