NEW DELHI: “It is time to punish the tukde-tukde gang. The people of Delhi must punish them,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah stated while addressing a public gathering on December 26. With repeated references made by ruling party members to this alleged “gang” in the recent past, Saket Gokhale, an activist and former foreign correspondent filed an RTI with the Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting for a definition of the “tukde-tukde” gang as identified by the Home Ministry.

“Amit Shah said in a rally today that the "tukde-tukde" gang of Delhi needs to be punished. Frankly, with all these constant references by the country's Home Minister, we at least deserve to know who this "gang" is. So I've filed an RTI with the MHA requesting this info,” Gokhale tweeted.

In the RTI, Gokhale has requested for not only a definition of the “tukde tukde” gang but also asked “whether a standard operation procedure (SOP) has been drawn up to identify this alleged gang.”

Gokhale asks whether the Home Minister’s reference to the “gang” was based on “specific briefings” by the Home Ministry or law enforcement agencies and if the leaders and members of the alleged “gang” have been identified by the Ministry.

Home Minister Shah, while attending the foundation stone laying ceremony of integrated development of East Delhi Hub, accused the Congress of misleading the people and supporting violence in Delhi in his speech. He alleged that the “tukde tukde gang”, led by the Congress party, was responsible for the violence in the national capital. Ahead of the Delhi elections to be held early next year, Shah stated that the people of Delhi must punish the “gang”.

Gokhale, in the last point of the RTI, refers to this “punishment” sought by the Home Minister, asking the Ministry to “please state what penal action/punishment (and specifically under which sections of the IPC and/other Acts) is the Ministry of Home Affairs planning against the members of the “tukde tukde” gang as declared by the Union Home Minister in his speech.”

In a follow-up tweet, Gokhale stated, “PS: Now I hope they don’t say it was just an “election jumla” by Maanyavar. That’d look very embarrassing. This bullying of people by the Home Minister needs to stop outright & cannot go unquestioned.”

Can an RTI be filed requesting information based on speeches made in public rallies? An individual on Twitter had the same question for Gokhale, to which Gokhale responded, “Yup. The last time I called out Modi on his remarks at a rally in Gujarat about Dr Manmohan Singh thru an RTI & Jaitley had to apologize for it in Parliament.”

Gokhale referred to an RTI filed by him on behalf of the Congress, asking for the source of the claims made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Gujarat Assembly election campaign speech at Palanpur in 2017, wherein he alleged that Pakistan was trying to influence polls.

As reported by The Hindu, PM Modi talked of a “secret meeting” in his speech attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari and former Army Chief Deepak Kapoor among other senior officials. The meeting was allegedly held for former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. According to the report, PM Modi stated the meeting was focused on influencing the Gujarat Assembly election results.

“While information sought does not form part of records held by this office, it may be noted that inputs received from multiple channels, including formal and informal, form the source of PM’s statements,” was the response by the Prime Minister’s Office to the RTI filed by Gokhale.

Gokhale had also reportedly filed an RTI on November 23, post the early morning oath-taking in Maharashtra—by Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as Deputy Chief Minister—that made headlines. In reply to a tweet asking about the response to the same, Gokhale stated that he had not received a response within the stipulated time period of 30 days and so had appealed against the same.