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Allahabad HC Asks Uttar Pradesh, Centre for Explanation on Kairana 'Exodus'

New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court on Thursday asked the Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre for an explanation on the alleged “exodus” in the western Uttar Pradesh town of Kairana.

A bench, headed by Allahabad HC Chief Justice DP Bhosale, directed the state government to prepare a response by February 2, the date of the next hearing on the matter.

Lokesh Khurana, a Meerut-based activist, had filed a petition with the HC on January 12. Speaking to News 18, Khurana said, “There were very disturbing reports about members of one community fleeing the town of Kairana. After that, similar reports started coming from other parts of western UP as well. This is an alarming situation and a complete breakdown of law and order in the state. A total of 346 families had fled from Kairana and Kandhla alone. I approached the HC and demanded that a CBI probe be conducted on the Kairana exodus and other such instances.”

Rajesh Mishra, Khurana’s lawyer, said, “On Thursday, the court held the first hearing in the case. The HC took a very serious view of the matter and agreed that this was cause for concern. The bench directed the UP government, the Shamli district administration, UP Police and the Union Principal Secretary (Home) to prepare a response. The next hearing on the case has been scheduled for February 2. We are confident that the honorable High Court will take strict action in this case. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has already expressed concern over the exodus in Kairana.”

Communal tensions in western UP were at a high in the months of June and July in 2016 after Kairana’s BJP MP Hukum Singh alleged that 250 Hindu families had fled the town over the last few years in a “mass exodus” due to “pressure from another community”.

Singh had even claimed that Kairana was becoming “another Kashmir” with Hindu families fleeing. While the BJP leadership endorsed his claims, the district administration and the ruling Samajwadi Party vehemently denied them. According to the local administration, “only three families” had left Kairana due to “worsening law and order”. Singh, however, received a huge fillip after the NHRC vindicated his claims and held riot-refugees responsible for altering the demographics of the small town. This had led to a disagreement between the NHRC and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), which held that the reports of an ‘exodus’ were exaggerated.

The BJP hailed the HC decision as a “victory”. Singh said, “I am glad that this issue is coming out in the public eye. The law and order in UP has broken down. I hope that the state government takes the HC verdict as a wakeup call. Traders have been hounded out of Kairana because they could either not pay the extortion money or refused to do so. As a result, the economy of the town has also been hit. Our party has been raising this issue for quite some time now. I spoke to the lawyer who is fighting the case in the High Court and we assured him all possible help in the matter.”