The Myth of the Kairana Exodus: On and Off the BJP’s Poll Plank in UP

From the ‘Hindu exodus’ in July, to the ‘Surgical Strikes’ in September, to sympathetic noises for Muslim women over ‘triple talaq’ and now vows to end ‘illegal mining’, the BJP appears unsure of what to actually make its poll plank for the forthcoming state assembly polls. Or is simply testing pre-election poll waters as alignments and re-alignments dog the political scenario in the state.

Rajnath Singh
Discussions in western Uttar Pradesh (UP) veer around the extent to which the BJP’s campaign propaganda will go to polarize a fractured electorate; affected by factors around caste and community. The forthcoming state elections are key to the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)’s credibility at the centre, dogged as it is by accusations of authoritarian and majoritarian functioning.
Any discussion of bahujan, pichda and ati-pichda politics foregrounds issues of deprivation, denials, structural –both social and economic. The moment, however, that the politics of “othering” pre-dominates, and the Hindu-Muslim divide surfaces in the discourse, perceptions shift that even impact on equations and therefore, votes. Then, the BJP and RSS feels, it is sure to play the winning card.
So which card will the saffron party finally throw into the ring?
Mid-July this year, after the party’s National Executive Meet at the historic city of Allahabad, the clarion call was sounded by the party president Amit Shah (disproved within days) of the ‘Hindu exodus from Kairana’. ‘Do you want such an exodus’ Shah had demanded, little aware that within days these false claims by the BJP MP Hukum Singh would stand discredited.
Shopping for poll planks that do the trick for the party that was humiliated in Bihar and Delhi before that, are other undercurrents can be felt around the districts of western and Uttar Pradesh. Hindu-Muslim or multiple caste assertion and affirmation?
Within this, hovers the ghost of triple talaq and Uniform Civil Code deviously collapsed into a bait for the misogynist sections among the minorities by a central government dominated by the RSS. Doubts and questions are being raised and a counter progressive questioning within mosques and localities, led by women and progressive Muslim males and the clergy is slowly beginning, also in Uttar Pradesh.
Today, three months after Shah’s controversial remarks on Hukum Singh’s claims, key BJP campaigners, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah appear to be re-positioning the ‘Kairana exodus’ card.The Indian Express reported today that ‘as the BJP’s Parivartan Yatra rolled into communally sensitive western Uttar Pradesh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh raised the pitch Monday, saying the “self-respect of mothers and sisters is being looted” in the region. He said if the BJP is voted to power in the state, it will act against “those using muscle power to terrorise people… hum dekhenge ki usne kitna ma ka doodh piya hai. The video can be heard here.
Though silent on the Kairana exodus, the veiled threat was to criminals, and by extension, if the I’s were dotted and ts crossed, to Muslims. Last week, on October 27, Amit Shah’s controversial speech had harked back to the Kalyan Singh’s rule in Uttar Pradesh. He had also condemned the law and order situation in UP associating the same only with leaders with Muslim names—the underlying message, that all criminals are Muslims.

Kairana Background
A visit by a team of Hindu seers within days visited Kairana to probe allegations by BJP MP Hukum Singh that 346 Hindu families had fled the small town due to persecution. Swami Chakrapani, one of the five seers who visited Kairana, slammed BJP for playing the "communal card". Swami Chakrapani, president of Akhil Bharatiya Sant Mahasabha, told TOI that Hindus and Muslims alike had been worried about rising crime there.
On September 21, the NHRC released the findings of their investigations in Kairana. The investigation was conducted based on a complaint on the alleged “exodus” of Hindu families from the town because of increasing crime. The NHRC report has claimed that the allegations are “serious” and that several Hindu families “migrated” from Kairana because of the “increase in crime” and “deterioration” of the law-and-order situation after victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots settled there. This ‘report’ of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was roundly condemned by activists and even the National Minorities Commission.

There was countrywide condemnation of this report.

A fact-finding team from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) that visited Kairana on Monday has questioned the recent report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which claimed that there had been an “exodus” of Hindu families from the area out of fear of some Muslims, reports the Times of India."We met some local families and spoke to the local administration. We found that there was no evidence to suggest there had been an exodus of any kind. I don't wish to comment on the NHRC report too much, but some of the findings seem baseless," the NCM team, led by member-in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Farida Abdullah Khan told the Times of India.
Last month, an NHRC report had validated the allegation made earlier by the BJP MP from the area, Hukum Singh that 250 Hindu families were forced to move out of Kairana in Shamli district of UP out of fear. "At least 24 witnesses stated that the youths of the specific majority community (Muslims in this case) in Kairana town pass lewd/taunting remarks against the females of the specific minority community in town," the report stated. From mid July through September, the party pushed this card even pushing the National Human Rights Commission to file a report that was condemned for its unprofessionalism.



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