The Allahabad high court directed Uttar Pradesh’s top police officer on Monday to ensure free and fair elections in Kairana and other communally tense areas of the state that goes to the polls from February 11.
The court was hearing a petition that alleged that the Samajwadi Party government’s “appeasement policy” made Hindus the target of communal violence in areas they were a minority.
Kairana in Shamli district hit the headlines last year after a local BJP leader alleged that hundreds of Hindu families were forced out of the town following threats and intimidation.
The local administration found the allegations of an “exodus” incorrect but a later investigation by the National Human Rights Commission found that at least 346 families had left the area.
Since then, Kairana and other parts of western UP have seen simmering communal tensions. The BJP – which is fighting against the Samajwadi Party-Congress combine and the Bahujan Samaj Party -- has repeatedly raised the issue in its campaigning. The state goes to the polls in seven phases beginning February 11.
The HC Bench comprising justice VK Shukla and justice Sangeeta Chandra directed the UP director general of police (DGP) and other concerned authorities to ensure free and fair polling when the area goes to vote on February 11.
The petition alleged that the DGP and chief secretary hadn’t filed their responses on the Kairana violence issue to the NHRC. The petitioner – a social worker called Lokesh Khurana – also requested the Union home ministry to take action and transfer the cases of alleged anti-Hindu atrocities to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The HC had earlier asked the state government about whereabouts of families that left Kairana because of fear of communal violence and facilitate their return. However, the state government requested more time in view of election duty and the next hearing in the case is on March 21.