An objective analysis of media reports on the issue of Kairana

By Timesheadline Writer

Recently in the poll bound UP, the BJP raked up the issue of a mass exodus of Hindu community from Kairana, a small town in Shamli district in UP. According to MP Hukum Singh “many Hindu families were forced to leave Kairana town in Western Uttar Pradesh due to ‘threat’ from a particular community”. (PTI, 2016 ) Stating the above he released a list of 346 families who had been forced to flee the town.  A day later he added that the 346 Hindu families who had fled their homes in Kairana town had done so due to “threat and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community”. (PTI, 2016)He added “It is not about communal incidents…It is not about Hindus or Muslims, the list may not be foolproof. This is about law and order.” The MP alleged that “Muslim gangs” such as the Mukeem Kala and Furhaan gangs were a “menace in western UP and that “local criminal elements have established their roots in Kairana by getting political patronage of a particular party”. (PTI, 2016)Step by step the MP highlighted that the reason for the mass exodus were threats and extortion by a local Muslim gangster who had political backing from the Samajwadi party government.

Soon after the list of 346 persons was released BJP party chief Amit Shah said at a massive rally in Allahabad, that only the BJP can defeat the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh  and exhorted the state not to take “Kairana lightly.” (Biswas, 2016). The issue was taken up by number of Ministers from the BJP party and the cabinet issuing statements in media that the law and order issue ought to be taken seriously. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, member of the BJP party called for action by the State government if the incidents were true.  (PTI, Ahmedabad, 2016)Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju spoke of the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh under the current government. Maneka Gandhi said that there is neither development nor safety, adding the Samajwadi Party Government has no shame about the rising crimes in the state. (ANI, 2016) Ministers of the BJP were indicating that law and order under SP government had deteriorated through their remarks.

In statements made at election campaigns the BJP leaders have time and again sought to point out a ‘particular community’ as responsible for communal riot, terror, hooliganism, and . On the eve of the bypoll in UP in August 2014, Sangeet Som BJP MLA said that “youth from a particular community are involved in eve-teasing Hindu girls, the situation was so bad that girls cannot move out freely.” (Verma, 2014) Similar statements to criminalize ‘a particular community’ blaming them for starting communal riot were made by Yogi Adityanath. (Express News Service, 2014)Further, in the by-election campaign in 2016 in Uttar Pradesh, Muslims were equated with hooliganism and terror emphasizing the need to prevent the migration of Hindus and restore their honour. (Bhardwaj, 2016) In the same line of rhetoric in Kairana the MP pointed out that threats and extortion were by criminal elements from a ‘particular community’.

Backed by a political party as the BJP claims, Mukeem Kala the gangster in Kairana was an extortionist who extorted traders both Hindus and Muslims motivated by personal gain for huge sums of money. His activity had caused only three persons from the list of 346 to flee the town. Earlier in 2013 a riot set off by criminal elements and motivated by political gain forced more than 50,000 people to flee their homes in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli district in UP.

MP Hukum Singh openly discarded the communal angle to the mass exodus in his statement, but party members tried to stir the communal plot while attacking the SP government and pointing out certain kind of criminals. Sangeet Som BJP MLA had proposed to take up a Padyatra from Kairana to Kandhla as a response to the mass exodus of Hindus, which was prevented by MP Singh.  A party leader claimed that the BJP was scouting for other ‘Kairanas’ in the State, where similar migration has taken place. (Rashid, 2016) The Minister released a second list titled “Kandhla se palayan karne wale pariwaron ki soochi” – a list of 63 on 14th June. (Express News Service, 2016)

In multiple ways indirectly the party aimed at polarization in Shamli. The party members have indulged in hate speech propaganda in the villages of Bijnor, Rajhaar, Badwar in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar districts in the past  (Aaj Tak, 2014) (PTI, 2014) The BJP party President Amit Shah has been reputed with hate speeches in the region famous for pitting one community against the other. At Rajhaar village in district of Shamli, the BJP party President while campaigning for Lok Sabha elections in 2014 referred to the Muzzaffarnagar violence and addressed the gathering saying, ‘the revenge for insult will have to be taken’. (India Today, 2014)

Categorically ignoring the exodus of riot victims who fled the Muzzafarnagar violence in 2013, in Kairana a parallel was drawn to the exodus of Pandits from the Kashmir valley. To this day 5200 families of internally displaced people (IDPs) live in 63 relief camps in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar district. Many IDPs are settled in camps in Kairana. The families fear return due to the volatility of the political and economic situation back home. Speaking for the plight of a single community proved the party’s promise of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ was far from true.

Investigation and tracking down of names by the Indian Express and Times of India exposed that people on the list had died and some left looking for better prospects. (Ranal, 2016) (Vatsa, 2016)By fact some on the list who were interviewed said that they had left due to tension during the Muzaffarnagar riots fearing that they will not be able to earn a livelihood in such an environment. Another investigation by Shamli administration found that out of the 346 families listed by Mr. Singh the administration probed 119 of which it found 68 had left Kairana 10-15 years ago for employment, business, and education of children, health and other services. Several on the list were dead and some were found still living in Kairana. It was also reported that some BJP party workers were themselves confused about the names on the list. (Rai, 2016) A group of Hindu sants submitted a report to the Chief Minister in which they rejected the exodus. (PTI, 2016)