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.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Sam­ina Wahid The writer is a free­lance jour­nal­ist who con­trib­utes reg­u­larly to var­i­ous lead­ing pub­li­ca­tions.

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.