BJP parliamentarian Hukum Singh, who had alleged an exodus of Hindus from Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh, released on Tuesday a list of 63 families that have apparently migrated out of neighbouring Kandhala town.
He alleged that these Hindu families of Kandhala, located 12km from Kairana in Shamli district, have moved out in the past three years because of fear “from growing population of Muslims”.
“These Hindu families have left under duress,” he alleged. “There were more than 100 families but I released a list of only those who contacted me and narrated their reason for migration.”
Police verified Singh’s new list and found that it contains nine farmers; five artisans; 18 shopkeepers; 19 small-time traders; six labourers; two doctors; an engineer and a contractor each; and three “others”.
The parliamentarian for Kairana alleged that not a single town in western UP is safe, including the Muslim-majority Kandhala.
Singh’s remarks were viewed as an attempt to ratchet up the issue of alleged Hindu migration from western UP before next year’s assembly election, which was a talking point at the BJP’s two-day national executive meeting in Allahabad. Top BJP leaders used the issue to accuse the state’s Samajwadi Party government of promoting lawlessness.
“The migration in Kairana because of violence is a matter of serious concern. There is an atmosphere of violence. The lack of development and the lack of governance in the largest state of India, that is Uttar Pradesh, is becoming a matter of serious concern,” party president Amit Shah told delegates at the meeting on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too accused the SP government of “goonda raj” or lawlessness at a party rally in Allahabad, though he didn’t mention Kairana in his speech.
For his part, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav accused BJP leaders of being dishonest and spreading lies.
“The BJP is alleging that the Samajwadi Party government forced the people to flee from Kairana ... BJP can be dishonest to this extent,” he said.
The Union home ministry apparently sought a detailed report from the state government three days on the alleged Hindu exodus but has yet to get a reply. Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju called the incidents unfortunate, “if they are true”.
BJP parliamentarian Singh has been criticised for trying to incite communal tension in the sensitive state before the crucial assembly election, which his party is looking to win after its remarkable feat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Singh was undaunted by the criticism and declared that another list of Hindu families that have fled other towns would be released soon.
The MP had earlier released a list of 346 families who he said were forced to flee Kairana town in Shamli district, which witnessed communal riots in 2013. Also, he compared the “exodus” from Kairana with that of the Pandits who left Kashmir during the height of militancy in the 1990s.
The chief minister responded angrily when some television channels picked Singh’s remarks to give Kairana a Kashmir twist. “May you have your face blackened if you are saying that Kairana has become Kashmir,” he said.
BJP MP Singh accused the state government of sending officials — couched as teams to verify his Kairana list — to intimidate people into giving contradictory statements.
“The entire government machinery was being misused to twist the matter to prove me wrong,” he said. “I stand by the list I released.”
Singh asked if police and district administration officials have contacted the migrated families.
Shamli district magistrate Sujeet Kumar ruled out any communal as well as law-and-order issues behind some people leaving the area.
“Till now, we have investigated the list of 119 families. Around 10-15 families, mentioned on the list, still live in Kairana and around 68 families have migrated from the area 10-15 years ago. They moved out because of economic reasons,” he told PTI.