New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath on Sunday (November 20) raked up the discredited BJP bogey on a Hindu ‘exodus’ from Kairana town while campaigning for the urban local body polls in the state. His government, Adityanath claimed, has established the rule of law in the state so that ‘Kairana-like’ incidents won’t happen again.
“Kanoon ke raaj ke adhaar par hum logon ne tai kiya ki aaj pradesh ke andar Kairana jaisi ghatnaon ki punravritti nahi ho sakti (On the basis of law, we have decided that Kairana-like incidents won’t happen again),” Indian Express quoted Adityanath as saying in Lucknow.
“Traders who had migrated from the state following kushashan (misrule) and gundaraj have started coming back. You can see in Kairana, Kandhala and nearby areas…. Mafia who were sheltered by the government and had taken over traders’ shops and establishments, have handed them back to the traders and moved away to escape government action,” he continued.
In June 2016, BJP MP from Kairana Hukum Singh had claimed that ‘harassment’ from the Muslim population had led to a Hindu exodus from Muslim-majority Kairana in Shamli district. To substantiate this claim, he produced a list of 346 Hindu families who had apparently left the town. This list however was soon discredited, with the Indian Express reporting that the list included those who had died, left the town more than ten years before this apparent ‘exodus’ or had migrated in search o better jobs. The Uttar Pradesh police and Shamli district administration also saw similar results while investigating Singh’s list. The Uttar Pradesh government, then led by the Samajwadi Party, also denied that any such exodus had taken place.
However, the BJP did not give up its campaign. Incorporating the issue in its election manifesto for the 2017 state assembly polls, the party promised to set up a special department in every district to stop mass migration because of communal tension.
In a documentary film about Kairana, Nakul Singh Swahney attempted to “scratch beneath the surface of such claims to reveal the larger patriarchal assault on women of both religions, by men of both religions”. According to Sawhney, the problems cut across communities and religions. “The Dalits of Kairana speak of how they’re at the receiving end of caste hierarchies upheld by dominant caste men of both religions. Muslim youth and workers speak of stark issues of unemployment in the town and the lack of any basic amenities – factors that are leading to growing criminalisation of the youth. A criminalisation that both Hindus and Muslims are victim to. The Hindus and the Jains of Kairana speak of how they’ve never felt vulnerable in a Muslim majority town.”