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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Tipu's sword back in Indian hands
By Habib Beary
BBC correspondent in Bangalore

Tipu Sultan (aka Tipu Sahib)
The 18th century Indian national hero and his famous sword
The sword of an 18th century Indian ruler has returned home 200 years after it was taken by the British.

The prize possession of Tipu Sultan, known as the "Tiger of Mysore", was bought at auction last autumn by Indian drinks magnate Vijya Mallya.

Tipu's sword was confiscated after his defeat and death in battle at Seringapatam in 1799.

It was auctioned by the family of Scottish General David Baird, given it for his bravery in toppling the sultan.

Tipu Sultan bitterly opposed British rule in southern India, posing a grave threat to the East India Company in the 18th century.

It was due to his stiff resistance that the British took almost 40 years to add Mysore to areas under their control.

Mystery buyer

The proud new owner - Vijay Mallya - says he wanted to bring back the sword to the land of its illustrious monarch.

Vijay Mallya (centre) with Tipu Sultan's sword
Sword belongs in India, says its new owner
He said no one had the right to possess it except for Indians.

Mr Mallya bought the sword at a London auction six months ago, but the identity of the buyer had been kept a secret.

The businessman-turned-politician said the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

"This is not political. It is personal," he told journalists in Bangalore.


SEE ALSO:
Scot's sword nets 175k
19 Sep 03  |  Scotland



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