The never-ending name-calling games in the political discourse range from naming Rahul Gandhi "Pappu" or saying "Chowkidar Chor Hai." One thing that remains the same in all these name-calling tactics is the intention to call one party or the other - "anti-national."
Recently, however, the name-calling has seen a rather terrible escalation. The Home Minister, Amit Shah said it is time to punish the "tukde-tukde gang" in Delhi for anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests and violence in Delhi. Following which, a gruesome attack took place on the JNU campus.
Now, here's a question that remains - "Who is the "tukde-tukde gang?" and honestly, it's as good as anybody's guess. But here's where it originated -
When Was The Word "Tukde Tukde Gang" Coined?
JNU in 2016, was accused of raising anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans in a protest that marked the third anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru. The protest was against the unfair trial of Guru. Afzal Guru was given capital punishment for harbouring terrorists, but the recent arrest of Davinder Singh showed that Afzal Guru was coerced into helping terrorists by Singh.
After the protests, the students were branded as “anti-nationals,” with three prominent names — Shehla Rashid, Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar — being the “face” of this anti-national gang.
A video of the incident was circulated on news channels, which was later found out to be doctored.
Zee News was also accused of misrepresenting the slogans shouted by one of its producers who subsequently resigned in protest. He said that the slogan “long live Indian courts” was portrayed as “long live Pakistan”. It later emerged that Zee News, along with NewsX and Times Now, had gone so far as to air doctored videos of the slogans.
It was Arnab Goswami, who first came up with the catchphrase “Tukde-Tukde” gang and since then, many media houses, politicians, and BJP IT cell members have made sure to keep this myth alive through regular debates, speeches and hashtags, where they made sure to use the catchphrase at opportune moments.
People have been made to believe that JNU is a breeding ground for freeloaders who are living off taxpayer money and whiling away their time in pursuing useless degrees in humanities, which serve no purpose for the country.
This has also been the argument against the recent fee hike protests at JNU.
Who Is The Tukde Tukde Gang?
In just the last 12 months, the Prime Minister and Home Minister have used the 'Tukde-Tukde Gang' catchphrase multiple times. While campaigning for the 2019 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi collectively labelled all political parties that united against the BJP as 'Tukde Tukde Gang'. Days later, he called both the Congress and Mamata Banerjee's party as supporters of the 'Tukde Tukde Gang'.
Home Minister Amit Shah, in March 2019, labelled Rahul Gandhi as part of the gang. Next month, he called upon the people of Begusarai to defeat the tukde tukde gang of CPI. In May of the same year, he hailed the BJP's victory in the general election as a "victory of true nationalism over tukde-tukde gang". Then, last month, he issued an open threat to 'punish' the tukde tukde Gang, those that were protesting against the CAA. And finally, a day after the brutal attacks on students at JNU, seemingly because of the failure of Delhi police to control the situation, he declared Arvind Kejriwal a tukde tukde gang supporter.
Seeing as the phrase has been used multiple times, for multiple parties in multiple different contexts - it becomes difficult to really see "who" is the real tukde tukde gang.
Looking at the context in which the tukde tukde gang as a word has been used, we can see that it has a lot to do with voices of dissent or disagreement. Opposition, protestors and anyone who doesn't adapt to the ruling party's ideology, really. It takes the route of calling almost anyone in disagreement with the ruling party a part of the Tukde Tukde Gang.
An RTI To Find Out Who Really Is A Part Of The Gang
Saket Gokhale, an activist and former journalist, filed an RTI on December 26 last year with the Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting a definition of the 'tukde-tukde gang'. The RTI just doesn't ask for a definition of it but also "whether a standard operation procedure (SOP) has been drawn up to identify this alleged gang".
The term 'Tukde Tukde Gang' has not been mentioned in any report by intelligence and law enforcing agencies. Some officials said they believe this is frivolous RTI application.
Meanwhile, Saket says he is serious about his application. "If the home ministry does not reply by the January 26 deadline, I will file an appeal and take the matter to the Chief Information Commissioner," Gokhle said.
Saket Gokhle while speaking to India Today said, "The home minister and the even the prime minister have used the term 'Tukde Tukde Gang' on several occasions. When they refer to such a gang, then it is safe to assume that as a standard operating procedure, the home ministry maintains a list of members of this gang. They have to clarify about the list or say this (Tukde Tukde Gang) is a figment of imagination."
This RTI may actually clarify the reality of the Tukde Tukde Gang, whether an actual group exists or if it's just cooked up theory. For now, the tukde tukde gang seems to be just about any random group or person that the ruling party deems anti-national.