Kairana: BJP lawmaker Hukum Singh, who had alleged a "Hindu exodus" from the Uttar Pradesh town of Kairana, has now said that it is not a "Hindu-Muslim issue".
- Hukum Singh alleged Hindus being forced to leave Kairana, gave 346 names
- Now says his team-member mentioned Hindu families 'by mistake'
- Kairana issue also raised by BJP chief Amit Shah at rally yesterday
Mr Singh had last week released a list of 346 people and said they were Hindus who had fled their homes in Kairana, a Muslim-majority town in western Uttar Pradesh, because of "threats and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community".
Today Hukum Singh released another 63 names of people who have purportedly fled from nearby Kandhla, but told NDTV that his lists do not just have Hindu names on them. "By mistake someone in my team mentioned Hindu families. I asked them to change that. I stick to my stand that this is not a Hindu-Muslim issue. This is just a list of people who have left Kairana under duress."
At a news conference the BJP lawmaker said, "I have asked my workers to re-verify...a few names may be off the mark, but largely it's the same. It's not a communal issue, but a law and order problem."
BJP president Amit Shah brought up Kairana at a public rally in Allahabad on Monday and at a BJP conclave in the city before that, "UP should not take Kairana lightly, it is a shocking event...the Kairana exodus is no ordinary event," Mr Shah said at the rally as he campaigned for assembly elections to be held early next year.
The UP administration has been conducting a door to door survey over the last few days to verify Hukum Singh's claims, and a senior official Sujit Kumar told NDTV, "We have verified 119 names. Four were found to be dead, 68 left Kairana a decade ago and 35 left five years ago in search of better livelihood."
"We haven't found a major law and order lapse," Mr Kumar added.
The BJP has said it will send a fact-finding team this week to Kairana, which is not far from Muzaffarnagar, the epicentre of deadly riots that killed over 60 people in 2013.
The Congress and Samajwadi Party have accused the BJP of attempting to polarise voters by raising Kairana months before assembly elections are held in Uttar Pradesh.
They also attribute the BJP's sweep of 71 of the state's 80 seats in the national election of 2014, to an alleged polarisation of voters after the Muzaffarnagar riots.
"This is not keeping elections in mind. We are not trying to polarize. We are talking only about development. When they want to polarize on the basis of caste and religion, they allege this," said senior central minister M Venkaiah Naidu of the BJP.