Uday Rana| TNN
A TOI team located at least 20 families mentioned in Singh’s list of 346 and almost all of them said the MP had got things wrong and perhaps willfully falsified “evidence” for political reasons.
Murari Lal’s family, for instance, is listed as “family number 195” on Singh’s list of Hindu families that have supposedly “fled” from western UP’s Kairana town unable to withstand persecution. Lal, however, is very much there and said that he has been living in Kairana since he was born and has never received any threat from the “other community”.
Several such families on the list said their names have been wrongly placed on the list. Some said that if certain families have moved, it is to find employment and better amenities and not out of the fear of rising instances of communalism. Others recognised that while there were serious law and order concerns, it was only a part of the reasons. None, however, claimed that a “mass exodus” along the lines of Kashmir had taken place.
Hukum Singh, though, stuck to his position and insisted there was “movement out of Kairana”. But on Monday, his statement came with a disclaimer. “I have relied on the information given by my party workers to prepare the list,” he said. “I have learnt about this from hardworking karyakartas and I trust them. I am a responsible Member of Parliament. The district administration and police are under pressure from the state government and they are all trying to prove that I am lying. Hundreds of Hindu families have left Kairana out of fear and that is a fact. Now they are saying that families left to find better avenues. If that is the case then why would they leave behind business that had a turnover of Rs 2 lakh per month? Why would they leave behind properties that cost crores? The greatest example is that of Purana Bazaar in Kairana. Until a few years ago, it used to have shops owned by Hindus. Now, all those shops have been encroached upon.”
Lal isn’t amused. “I don’t know how I ended up on this list,” he said. “I have never moved from here. Nobody even came to my house to ask me about this list. It is wrong to say that there is Hindu-Muslim tension in Kairana. My neighbors are Muslims and we live in harmony. I go to their house for the Eid feast and they come to mine for Holi milan. I have never received any threats from Muslims.”
Dayachand Valmiki, another Kairana resident on the “exodus list”, had a similar version of events. “I don’t know why they are defaming Kairana. The last time there was a communal clash in my area was 25 years ago. After that incident, I don’t remember any clashes. Personally, too, I have never received threats from Muslims.”
Some distance away, Vipul Jain said, “My uncle was on the MP’s list. It is true that he left a few years ago but not out of fear. He left because my aunt, his wife, had got cancer. The hospitals are better in Shamli.”
Shailendra Kumar, city-based lawyer and president of the Kairana Bar Association, said the “Hukum Singh list” was just an attempt to polarize the city before the elections, due in Uttar Pradesh next year. “Amod Jain, who is on the list, sold me his house in 2000 before leaving. Jagdish Jain, another person on the list, used to be my tenant a few years ago but he was transferred to another city. They didn’t run away. This is no exodus,” Kumar said.
Shamli district magistrate Sujeet Kumar told TOI, “On Sunday, the police carried out a door-to-door survey of 150 families on the list. Out of those the district administration cross-checked 119. We found that 4 families had no living members, 13 were still in Kairana, 68 had left the city more than a decade ago and the remaining had gone five years ago. The findings do not suggest an exodus. The families moved to bigger industrial centers like Panipat for better avenues.”
Some residents, meanwhile, did express anxiety over rising crime in the region. “I used to live in Kayasthawada locality but I shifted to Shamli last year. The atmosphere was terrible. It was not a Hindu-Muslim issue but a law and order one. I still work in Kairana but I travel 13 km every day for work. I did not receive any threat personally but I did not want to wait,” said Rajbala Verma, a former Kairana resident on the MP’s list.
Another resident, Pravin Kumar Garg, a lawyer, said, “There is a definite atmosphere of fear in Kairana. The Muqeem Kala gang had terrorized local residents.” But he, too, shifted five years ago.