Rise of Gullu
With his handlebar mustache, baton-wielding yet tasbeeh- toting Gullu Butt has become a popular symbol of government oppression and state-sponsored violence.
How a local gangster from Lahore became a symbol of terror and vandalism.
Who is Gullu Butt? According to the Urban Dictionary, it refers to “…a violent thug with anarchic tendencies, who enjoys committing any sort of criminal damage, such as vandalizing cars, smashing windows and destroying property. A Gullu Butt can also viciously attack people. He is usually funded through a payroll from a government source, such as a ghunda tax or receives backhanded payments from a higher level and is on instructions to commit such crimes.”
The actual Gullu Butt, of course, is a local gangster who became famous when he terrorized people and vandalized property outside the Minhajul Quran headquarters in Lahore’s Model Town. Gullu Butt rose to mercurial heights of fame after the footage of his shenanigans was aired on TV channels.
Caught on camera dancing away and celebrating as he smashes cars, Gullull Butt hhas achievedhid an iconici status. He refuses to go away from our public and political discourse and his name pops up every time an unsavory character is found wielding a baton and destroying property to terrorize the masses.
Here’s what we do know about Gullu Butt, based on weeks of exhaustive news analyses that have appeared on TV: Gullu Butt is often deployed for bullyboy tactics. He may come across as a brutal, menacingly ferocious character. However, when challenged he can prove rather weak. GGullull BButt iis a cross bbetween a rogue and a maverick but with low selfesteem. The weapon of choice for Gullu Butt is a long baton or truncheon, but he can resort to using anything that is available.
The term Gullu Butt can be used to describe anyone using elements of extreme force to achieve an end - with or without violence. Such a person is often seen as a vigilante type of individual.
The real Gullu Butt may have become the butt ( tongue firmly in
cheek) of all jokes but he has also come into his own with more than 10,000 downloads of a mobile game built and named after him – Gullu. Also, the word 'gullu' was about to make its way to the Oxford Dictionary as a term standing for the disruptive behavior of someone who enjoys (whether explicit or implicit) the backing of the ruling/ powerful segments of society.
The idea was put forward by Shamim Azam, a linguist from Lahore who was closely following the Gullu Butt phenomenon since June 17, 2014 when the character first appeared on TV screens. A few months later, Azam wrote to Oxford University Press, suggesting that the term be included in their upcoming edition for Pakistan and India. Azam believes that the word ‘gullu’ deserves an entry in the dictionary, given that it has a considerable semantic value in Pakistan. According to the publishers of the dictionary, if “the term achieves enormous currency with a wide audience in a much shorter space of time, and people expect to find the new 'high-profile' word in their dictionaries, it is included in the dictionary.” However, OUP turned down the request stating that the term Gullu “does not meet the entry criteria required for including a word in Oxford Dictionaries.”
Azam believes that the word deserved a place in the dictionary because it represented a certain mindset and an ongoing phenomenon in the country. “Now, whenever someone or something is threatened or harmed by the cronies of powerful figures, the violent actors are referred to as ‘gullus’, and without any further explaining, the usage of the word is properly encoded and decoded by the public,” Azam explains.
While Gullu-like manifestations have existed in Pakistan for a long time, it’s only now that there is a symbolic representation that has linguistic value at the same time. Gullu Butt is synonymous with all characters that indulge in violence with complete abandon and without any fear of consequences. “The connotations of the word 'gullu' are quite rich, as it encompasses all the emotional associations you think of when you see or hear the word; its connotations include more than just violent behavior,” points out Azam in a recent interview given to a local newspaper.
It is worth mentioning here that in linguistics, word derivations are important to give meaning to it. For example, the word ‘gullu’ was not invented as such but came to the limelight after a terrible incident. Thus, its denotative sense now needs to be further refined and established so that the word may be used properly. To that end, the presence of the word in a renowned dictionary will serve that purpose and ensure its usage and popularity all over the world.
Azam adds that since Gullu is used to denote violent behavior now, it should be changed from a Proper to a Common Noun which means the word should no longer be capitalized. The word class is changed by using morphemes like gulluish (adjective); gulluishly (adverb); gullunize (verb); gulluism (abstract noun); the plural form is gullues; the past simple tense of gullu, rather than being gullued, is gulloished; the comparative form of gulluish is more gulluish (not gulloisher, as it contains two syllables).
The entries of phrasal verbs are more important to extend its sense. Azam suggests the following phrasal verbs: gullu down (to talk violently to choke somebody down); gullu around (to create riot and brutality); gullu up (to demonstrate gulluish behavior), and gullu in (to intrude in one’s personal affairs with an aggressive tone and traits). “These phrasal verbs can be used expressively as the semantic value of the root word ‘gullu’ is so rich that one can easily determine the meaning of all these entries,” he says.
MMuchh liklike theh pervasivenessi off the word ‘selfie’, Gullu is also here to stay. Although the word Gullu could not make an entry into the Oxford Dictionary, the handlebar mustached, baton-wielding Gullu has become a popular symbol of government oppression and state-sponsored violence.