Hukum Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, triggered a political storm after he alleged last week that there has been an exodus of Hindus from the Muslim-dominated town of Kairana in Shamli district. He likened it to the migration of Pandits from Kashmir.
His claim has since been found to be incorrect by the local administration. Many Hindus he claimed had fled the town in recent times on allegedly being targeted by Muslim criminal gangs were found to have left more than five years ago. Most appear to have left in search of jobs. Many Muslim families were also among those who left Kairana.
The controversy over his claim continues to rage and the spotlight remains firmly on Singh. He spoke to Hindustan Times:
Q. What is the issue and how and when it came to your notice?
A. Kairana is a town which has experienced a drastic change in the ratio of population in the past few decades. It is now dominated by Muslims and for the past few years people approached me with complaints of deteriorating law and order situation with frequent demands of extortion by different criminal gangs. When they refused to fulfil their demands, criminals killed a few in broad daylight and police did nothing to nail them. As a result many families migrated from here especially in the past three years in search of a safe place.
Q. You released a list of 346 families who migrated from Kairana in the past few years and your rivals are criticising for not mentioning the names of Muslims who also have moved out.
A. My party workers have prepared the list on the basis of door-to- door survey . I came to know about the family of Naushad who migrated from here after receiving a demand for Rs 10 lakh from a gang. He refused to pay the money and opted to go out leaving his Rs 2 crore-house behind. If there were other Muslims who left because of fear , I am ready to release their list too.
Q. Your rivals say that you have raised the issue for extracting political benefit during assembly elections in 2017.
A. They may think in their own way but how they can ignore the naked fact of exodus? Moreover, I am in politics for over 40 years, been elected MLA 7 times, had been a minister for 12 years and now I am an MP only because of politics. Doing politics is not a sin. Those who are saying such things don`t know that I have been raising the issue since 2013 and my ill-informed opponents are misleading people.
Q. Questions have been raised over the credibility of your list after verification by district authorities who claim that people have moved out in search of jobs and other reasons. Besides, a few families mentioned in your list, are still living in Kairana.
A. That is what the officials are doing on the direction of the state government. They have been adopting everything possible to prove my list and claims wrong. Teams of civil officials and police are visiting door-to-door for spot verification and mounting pressure on people to issue statements to discredit the list. They are even planting fake persons before media. I still stand by my list and challenge the outcome of their verification. They are government`s employee and will say what the government wants.
Q. What is your demand?
A. Its not a communal issue but a serious law and order problem. The state government should ensure infusing a sense of security among the people and should direct their officials to nail criminals. The superintendent of police and other officials should work instilling confidence among people instead of pleasing their political bosses by trying to contradict my list through so-called verification drive.
Q. Is there any political patronage to criminals? Who are behind them?
A. Yes, they can`t be so fearless without having political patronage. Police have been acting as puppets and are therefore not able to take effective actions against criminals. The local leaders of the ruling party and the family of MLA Naved Hasan are giving patronage to the criminals.