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P Chidambaram writes: May the tukde tukde gangs grow stronger until they achieve their Constitutional goals

There is nothing unusual or inherently wrong about a right-wing ideology. It is only when right-wing leaders politicise their religion and attempt to divide people on the ground of religion that the Constitution is violated and social harmony is disrupted. The BJP has done just that.

Written by P Chidambaram | Updated: February 16, 2020 11:20:39 am
tukde tukde gang, p chidambaram, anti caa protests, tukde tukde gang rti, bjp, Ministry of Home Affairs, shaheen bagh, jnu, indian express news The women protesters at Shaheen Bagh. The people spearheading the fight against divisive politics are not the usual persons belonging to political parties: they are women and children who normally stay at home, youth who are disappointed with successive governments and students who have become cynical about politics itself. (Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

The following question and answer from the record of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha on February 11, 2020, would be a source of merriment if it were not a sad commentary on the utterances of BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and other ministers:

Question

(a) whether an organization called the ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ has been identified and catalogued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) or any Central/State Law Enforcement Agency/Police Force or any Central or State Intelligence Structures;

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(b) whether the terminology ’Tukde Tukde Gang’ is based on specific inputs provided by the ministry or other law enforcement/intelligence agencies;

(c) whether the Ministry of Home Affairs/NCRB or any other law enforcement or intelligence organisation has drawn up a list of alleged leaders and members of the ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’;

(d) whether any penal action/punishment (and specifically under which sections of the IPC and/or other Acts) by the Ministry of Home Affairs or any other law enforcement agency/intelligence structure is contemplated against the members of the ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’; and

(e) if so, the details thereof?

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Answer

(a) to (d): No such information has been brought to the notice of the government by any law enforcement agency.

Breaking up Country?

Since the BJP was voted back to power in May 2019, many Indians have been persuaded to believe that the integrity of India is in danger and there are groups that are working actively to break up the country. These groups were given various names at different times — Naxalites, Maoists, Islamist terrorists, Urban Naxals, etc. After a student-organised demonstration at Jawaharlal Nehru University (that led to slapping of false sedition charges against Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar and three other student leaders), the protesting students were labelled as the tukde tukde gang. That label has been stuck on every group protesting against the BJP’s policies and actions. That label has also entered political discourse — even of the urbane Foreign Minister, Mr S Jaishankar, sadly.

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Given the speed with which the label was stuck on various groups, people were led to believe that tukde tukde gangs actually existed and were a grave and growing threat to the country. Academics, economists, writers, artists, students, trade unionists, farmers, unemployed youth, women and children and, of course, political leaders belonging to opposition political parties earned the distinction of being members of the tukde tukde gang. Women and children camping in Shaheen Bagh protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Population Register were the most recent entrants to the tukde tukde gang. The list grew every day.

Glitch in the Plan

In the just-concluded elections to the Delhi legislature, the PM spoke at two rallies and railed against the tukde tukde gangs. Newspapers, television channels and social media sites flashed the pictures of the ‘gangs’. There was, however, one glitch. The members of the tukde tukde gangs were carrying the National Flag in one hand and a copy of the Constitution of India in the other! Besides, from time to time, they sang the National Anthem with great gusto! The rhetoric that was thrown at the people and the pictures and images they saw on the media contradicted each other. Each section of the people seemed to believe what it wanted to believe.

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Now, there is the startling statement of the minister. No leader of the BJP has come forward to explain the obvious dichotomy between their accusations in the past months and the minister’s statement in Parliament last week.

There is nothing unusual or inherently wrong about a right-wing ideology. It is also not uncommon that right-wing leaders are staunch believers. It is only when right-wing leaders politicise their religion and attempt to divide people on the ground of religion (‘my religion vs your religion’) that the Constitution is violated and social harmony is disrupted. The BJP has done just that, and in the last six years has placed in the government and in other state institutions persons who are not just religious but persons who will weaponise their religious beliefs to spread fear and uncertainty among large sections of the people.

As Dr. Neera Chandhoke, former professor of Political Science, University of Delhi, wrote “What secularism combats is politicized power, power harnessed to a religious anchor, religious identities as power… Secularism is an attempt to control politicized religion from taking over the State. This was absolutely indispensable because the country had been partitioned on the basis of religion.”

The fight is between politicisation of religion and upholding the secular Constitution. The fight is continuing on the streets of Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Kochi and many small towns and in universities and elsewhere. The people spearheading the fight are not the usual persons belonging to political parties: they are women and children who normally stay at home, youth who are disappointed with successive governments and students who have become cynical about politics itself. They have braved cold weather, water cannons, lathis and even bullets (23 people died in police firing in Uttar Pradesh alone).

Delhi elections provided the ‘Vietnam moment’ for India. A significant victory — and vindication of equality and secularism — came when Delhi’s electorate gave a thumping vote. The tukde tukde gangs had won! May the tukde tukde gangs grow stronger until they achieve their Constitutional goals!

This article first appeared in the February 16 print edition titled ‘The tukde-tukde gangs win’

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