Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, there are many who feel that terms like Intellectuals, Rationalists, Liberals have turned into Anti-Nationals, Traitors, Separatists, and most recently popularised ‘Urban Naxals’ in the Indian political discourse. A part of Indian youth observes that these words have rather become accusation which is thrown around freely without any context by the Right Wing to pull down the dissent and to the counter-arguments. In the similar context, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ is often seen with a hashtag on social media. In a conversation with AV, Tirtha Roy Biswas, Research scholar, IIT Kharagpur asserted, “The essence of democracy is the right to dissent. Since the current government came to power, the BJP-RSS fusion has tried to brand any form of dissent or protest or any attempt to question the government as anti-national, as was the case with JNU. On the other hand, the government itself has pushed its communal agenda of Hindutva by repeatedly raising issues of Ram Mandir and promoting mob lynching of innocent Muslims in the name of ‘cow protection’. In my opinion, this BJP government is a threat to the secular democracy of our country and is the actual “Tukde Tukde gang”.
JNU has been maligned over the past few years with their student leaders being labelled as ‘anti-Indian’ and ‘Tukde-Tukde Gang’: a charge they vehemently deny. However, Kanhaiya Kumar said that if the news of the chargesheet against him is true then he congratulates the police and Modi government for taking the action after three years of their entrance into the power. Kanhaiya also remarked that the ruling party now wants to play all the cards — be it the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the 10 per cent reservations for the poor in General category, cow protection or this national, anti-national issue, all these cards are being played so that PM Modi can have topics for his speeches. Talking about how the present government is active in resisting anti force against the interest of the nation, BJP’s Mumbai spokesperson and IT Cell member Suresh Nakhua said, “This whole ‘Tukde Tukde’ campaign is initiated and promoted by Rahul Gandhi and Congress. The B team of Congress i.e. AAP and its CM Kejriwal has not yet sanctioned any permission for chargesheet and purposely delaying it. Caste game is only played by Congress; it is their well-planned strategy to divide people for their benefit. Congress is well aware that if all castes come together, their number of seats will go down from 44 to 4. The B team of Congress also includes RJD, Samajwadi, and Leftistist parties.”
He further added, “After the Tukde Tukde incident, seven convicts ran away to Kashmir and are underground. Delhi Police summoned them several times but the process got delayed as they didn’t respond to it. Thorough investigation on the JNU issue has been done by the police and the law is going to take its own course. The Tukde Tukde slogan video tapes are genuine and this is a Congress and leftists sponsored propaganda. These student leaders also chanted slogans like ‘Ghar Ghar se Burhaan niklega’ and we retaliate them saying “Har Burhaan ko thoka jayega. Ghar me Ghus ke thoka jayega.”
Five months after the JNU clamour, it came to the mainstream media that the Dalits in Gujarat’s Una were flogged for just doing their occupation of skinning dead cows. However, later, a local media reported that the act was done to drive them out so that their land could be grabbed. Dalits in Gujarat protested against the act for weeks and eventually, the protest threw a national face for the Dalits movement in the form of Jignesh Mevani.
In 2014, the then Congress-NCP government issued an ordinance for 16 per cent reservation to the Marathas, a politically influential community that makes up 30 per cent of the state’s population, and 5 per cent reservations to the Muslims. The government did not pass the law as it was objected by the law and the political experts believe that this was done to appease the Muslims and Maratha community which is the majority in the state before general polls. ,However, BJP won the throne in 2014 and the Maharashtra legislature unanimously in December 2018 approved a bill to offer 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and university seats to Marathas; breaching of Supreme Court-mandated cap of 50 per cent pushed legal challenges towards the bill soon after.
In another instance, in August 2018, the Pune police raided homes of 10 human rights activists across the country and arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao and they were investigated in connection with a public meeting held a day before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima-Koregaon last year. As several commentators, as well as the Delhi High Court, have observed, there seemed little evidence to justify the arrests. Yet, the Pune police have defended their action by labelling the activists as “urban Naxals”, supporters of Naxalites waging war against the state in the jungles of some states.
AISF Mumbai Youth Secretary Aamir Karim said, “There’s no doubt that this government has divided the nation in ‘Tukde Tukde’. This ruling government is not the party we voted for, but this government is actually run by the ideologies of Sangh Parivar. However, Tukde Tukde gang is not just restricted to students but also professors are a part of the same. Being a Muslim, I have to face many circumstances and nowadays I am scared of being targetted at any point of time. Earlier, everyone used to go to the temples and mosques, but now even before entering a temple, a person is asked about his/her religion; this is how our nation is divided now.”
India isn’t a country where the idea of one-size-fits-all can work. Any attempt to impose one kind of culture, in this context Hindi-Hinduism, will be met with resistance. Rationalists believe that the right wing’s concept of the ‘ideal Indian’ is a skewed one while they also feel if this chauvinistic mindset is not countered, we may very well be bracing ourselves for the dissolution of the Indian union. Student Union leader Gajanan Kale regretted and put his heart out saying, “BJP, Sangha Parivar, and PM Modi have brutally divided the society — students, farmers, women, castes, and religions — none is spared. Then JNU student leaders like Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid were labelled as anti-national; similarly, there should also be cases filed against our Prime Minister for his fake promises and jumlas.”
When Afternoon Voice spoke to the youth of the city, their voices came out highlighting that the tukde tukde gang is not a threat to the Indian democracy and for them, the controversial JNU leaders are trying to reaffirm democratic principles among general masses. They have also not hesitated to put a question of the present government on their intention to keep the nation united.
Media Student Ashm Piyush expressed, “The Right-wing in India has suddenly become the flag-bearer of nationalism which is drenched in a superiority complex and divisive rhetoric. In order for someone to be a nationalist in their eyes, the person has to be a Hindu, preferably an upper caste and North Indian who speaks Hindi and supports its imposition on the rest of the country. Anybody that doesn’t fit this mould is viewed as Anti-national and other similar sort of things.”
However, a Journalist from Mumbai on the condition of anonymity believes that, “Rather blaming either of the sides on the ‘Tukde Tukde’ issue, I believe neither of the parties — JNU student leaders or the BJP government — is concerned for the interest of the nation. I don’t think anyone had the intention to support the division of the country; all are acting for their own political advantage.”
The question remained unanswered for the people of India to observe and decide who actually is dividing the nation on the name of religions, regions, casts, and categories? Whom should we label as the real ‘Tukde Tukde gang’.