Kairana is a small town in Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh.
It is known for being the birthplace of the Kiran Gharana, an established school of Indian classical music.
More importantly, Kairana has always had communal harmony, even at a time when parts of UP witnessed a lot of violence and communal hatred during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, according to Deccan Chronicle. The report also said that with a population comprising nearly 80 percent Muslims and 18 percent Hindus, Kairana has seen no trace of communal tension.
Enter BJP MP Hukum Singh.
After his claim that 346 Hindu families have been forced to flee Kairana due to "threats and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community", fear of communal tension has clearly spread in UP, where Assembly elections will take place in 2017.
The BJP leader had also released a list of the Hindus who had apparently left Kairana because of communal hatred.
After Hukum Singh's allegations, National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the UP government in connection with the alleged exodus, while the UP government itself ordered a probe into the issue.
But just as authorities in UP were getting anxious about communal tension in Kairana, Hukum Singh took a massive U-turn.
On Tuesday, the BJP leader — who was also one of the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots — said that the exodus of Hindus from Kairana was "not communal" in nature but was rather connected with the poor law and order situation in the region, according to the Deccan Chronicle report.
Another Indian Express report also pointed out that on the same day, Hukum Singh released a second list of names, this time from Kandhla. While the title of his first list was 'Kairana se palayan karne wale Hindu pariwaron ki soochi (List of Hindu families who migrated from Kairana)', his second list had the word 'Hindu' missing from the title, which was 'Kandhla se palayan karne wale pariwaron ki soochi (List of families who migrated from Kandhla)'.
We really wonder what brought about this sudden change in Hukum Singh's views. Maybe it was because he thought that the strategy of polarisation and divisive politics for poll-bound UP would be overpowered by the truth about Kairana.
But what is the truth about the situation in Kairana?
According to reports, the truth is actually what Hukum Singh said after his U-turn. It is indeed true that there has been an exodus of people from Kairana. But the reason behind it is the poor law and order situation, not any sentiment of communal hatred.
According to The Wire, while it is true that most of the Hindu families had left Kairana over a long period of time, it is also true that around 150 Muslim families had also moved out to safer places because of rampant crime and negligence by police in Kairana, something which Hukum Singh conveniently forgot to mention in his 'list'.
The report added that the few active gangs in Kairana extort not only from Hindus abut also from Muslims. Two of these gangs are led by Mukim Kala and Furqan, both of whom are in jail.
Thus, Hukum Singh was actually trying to twist the truth and disguise a law and order problem as a communal problem.
Moreover, there have been major inconsistencies reported in both of his lists.
In the Kairana list, an earlier Indian Express report had said that five people had actually died, four had moved out of Kairana looking for better opportunities, 10 had left more than 10 years ago and three had moved fearing “local criminals”.
Out of 118 names submitted by the UP police and the Shamli district administration, who are checking on names in Hukum Singh’s list, similar patterns were found. Five were dead, 12 were still present, 46 had moved out since 2011 and 55 had moved out at least 6-11 years ago.
Similar inconsistencies were also found in Hukum Singh's Kandhla list.
As the nine-member BJP delegation arrives in Kairana to probe the exodus issue, they should keep in mind that the actual problem plaguing Kairana seems to be very different from the one projected by Hukum Singh.
With inputs from PTI