This Article is From Jan 07, 2020

Will The Real 'Tukde-Tukde Gang' Please Stand Up?

No matter which side of the divide you sit on, it's rare to come across somebody that doesn't condemn the violence witnessed at JNU. The gruesome pictures of blood running down the faces of unsuspecting students and iron rod-wielding goons running amok inside one of the country's top most educational institutions won't allow you to condone that which it has just witnessed. Resultantly, all voices, be that of influencers or ordinary folks, have demanded that strict action be taken against those behind this violence. Don't ignore a group of prime-time news anchors - a special breed, that have to their credit, among other iniquitous things, popularized terms like 'Urban Naxals' and 'Tukde-Tukde Gang', which help promote hatred towards JNU and its students.

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JNU students' union president Aishe Ghosh was among the over 30 students and teachers injured

These terms first invaded our vocabulary four years ago during the 2016 student protests at the same university, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of media men who were locked in an intense battle to prove who amongst them was the best ally in furthering the government's nationalist agenda. Before long, 'Urban Naxals' and 'Tukde-Tukde Gang' had become an intricate part of the country's political discourse and were being used to describe any subject or individual that chose to speak in a voice contrary to the government's line.

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Students outside the Delhi Police headquarters to protest against the violence

In just the last 12 months, the Prime Minister and Home Minister have evoked the 'Tukde-Tukde Gang' catchphrase multiple times - (we'll refer to it as "TTG" from now, keeping with our penchant for everything WhatsApp). While campaigning for the 2019 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi collectively labelled all political parties that united against the BJP as 'TTG'. Days later, he would go onto call both the Congress and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool as supporters of the 'TTG'. How these two entities were demoted from being the 'TTG' to mere supporters of 'TTG', one may never know.

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A group of masked men entered the JNU campus on Sunday, spreading chaos and terror

If Home Minister Amit Shah is to be believed, 'TTG' is a formidable unit whose strength doesn't necessarily lie within but is derived from its powerful supporters. In March 2019, Shah labelled Rahul Gandhi as part of 'TTG'. Next month, he called upon the people of Begusarai to defeat the 'TTG' of CPI. In May of the same year, he hailed the BJP's victory in the general election as "victory of true nationalism over tukde-tukde gang". Then, last month, he issued an open threat to 'punish' the 'TTG', those that were protesting against the CAA. And finally, a day after the brutal attacks on students at JNU, seemingly because of the the utter failure of Delhi police to control the situation, he declared Arvind Kejriwal a 'TTG' supporter.

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Questions have been raised about the response of Delhi Police to the attack on students

Such has the been the infectiousness nature of 'TTG' that even non-BJP-walas have not been able to resist using it lately. Rahul Gandhi and Kapil Sibal of the Congress and D Raja of CPI are on record calling the Narendra Modi-led BJP as the real 'TTG'. Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap, a vocal critic of the current dispensation, reckons it's the combined team of BJP and ABPV that's best suited for the title of 'TTG'.

So, will the real 'TTG' please stand up? 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 'TTG' but also "whether a standard operation procedure (SOP) has been drawn up to identify this alleged gang". The Home Ministry's reply is awaited.

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Bollywood personalities led hundreds of people in a peaceful protest at Carter Road in Mumbai on Monday evening

Meanwhile, the various 'North Korean TV channels' have been busy churning out uninspiring hashtags such as #ShutdownJNU #JNUFreebies #AntiNationalJNU. Whilst these have been highly effective in stereotyping JNU - with a little help from a few doctored videos - they've failed to catch the imagination of media advisors, IT cell heads and speech writers of various political leaders and parties and have thus been forgotten soon after.

Meanwhile, the prime-time news anchors, who are mostly also the senior-most editors in the organisation, carry on unabashedly, night after night, spewing venom, using their home-made catchphrases, Tonight, once again, they will be on a TV set near you. 

(Nikhil Naz is a freelance journalist and author of the best-selling book, 'Miracle Men: The greatest underdog story in cricket'.)

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