Lucknow: A non-descript town in the western part of Uttar Pradesh has been hitting the newspaper headlines for the past some time. It has also drawn attention of political parties. Leaders of these parties have made a beeline to this town in Shamli district which has been carved out of the old district of Muzaffarnagar. Not to lag behind, a team of Human Rights Commission has also gone to the area to gather “first-hand” information.
Most of those who have visited the town are divided on party lines on the exodus issue. For the ruling Samajwadi Party stories related to the town, especially on “mass Hindu exodus” are “false” and “ politically-motivated”. The rival Bhartiya Janata Party calls them true and based on facts. Both are stating half-truth. There is no denying that the area has been hard-hit by law and order problems. It has faced threats and extortion. But it has not been a witness to mass-exodus, as has been claimed by BJP leaders. When the political parties play a partisan role truth becomes a casualty. The same is true in this case.
What the BJP says is denied by the SP and Vice-e-versa. Officials also seem to be divided. While one official report said that three families have fled, another, which is the latest, claimed that no Hindu family has left the town due to threat from a majority community (Muslims) in that area. In any case, there is no evidence to suggest that over 300 families have “migrated” from the town as claimed by the BJP.
The motive behind the move is not difficult to find. The election in the state is less than a year away and such stories can win over a good many pro-Hindutva elements. The belief in Joseph Goebbels theory that if a lie is repeated 1000 times it becomes a truth could be also instrumental. The party, however, has rightly said that criminal elements have been ruling the area for the past five years and the police has not done enough to control them.
The trouble began around 2011. Mukeem Kala, a resident of Jahanpur village, near Kairana who began as a small-time criminal formed a gang of his own after the death of his mentor Muastafa Kagga whom he met in a jail. The gang committed dacoity, loot, murder and all other crimes. Gradually, its area of operation expanded to as far as Haryana.
Kala became a dreaded name soon enough. Mention of his very name sent shivers down the spine. Fear of extortion gripped the area. His criminal activities can be gauged from the fact as many as 30 serious cases of crime were registered against him. There could be many unregistered cases. Since much was not done to improve the situation on law and order front, other gangs were formed who made life miserable in the area. His activities remained out of bound for at last three years. Though in a far-flung state it is not easy to nab a criminal but three years is a long period for the job.
The government admits that several residents of the town and their family members left their homes and hearths but it is of view that they migrated for employment and better living. It does not agree that they have gone out of fear. The fear theory has got takers not only in the BJP but also other parties. They do not totally rule it out for the simple reason that the area is dominated by Muslims and some criminal gangs have opened their dens in this part. Figures are doled out in support:According to latest (2011) census report, Kairana has a total population of 89,000 out of which Muslims account for nearly 81 per cent.
This theory does not hold ground because in most other parts Muslims are in a minority but they are not fleeing. In retrospect , it appears that the migration issue shot into prominence because of over reaction by the ruling party. Instead of giving little importance to the mass exodus allegation it tried to match word with match with its rival. If the BJP sent one delegation, the party sent another which kept the issue alive . What is worse, the SP rushed a saint group to the area in the hope that it will quieten the BJP. It has not. Mathura and Kairana have provided a stick to the party to beat the SP. It cannot use it sparingly.