A two member team of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has submitted a report on Tuesday, explicitly stating that there has been "no unusual exodus of Hindus" from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh.
The report dismisses the controversial report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that blamed Muslims for the alleged exodus of Hindus from Kairana. Contrary to the NHRC report, NCM claimed the families that had shifted were following the usual migratory patterns in search of better opportunities.
The NCM team recently visited Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Uttar Pradesh to assess the status of the victims of the communal violence of 2013 wherein they held meetings with district administration and various community representatives.
During the visit, the team met locals and top government officials in Muzaffarnagar, Kairana, Shamli and other areas where those who had fled during the 2013 riots have settled.
It was during their visit to Kairana when the issue of exodus was brought up. The alleged Hindu exodus is also being exploited by the BJP for electoral gains in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections.
The alleged exodus was first raised by BJP MP Hukum Singh and then repeatedly by top BJP leaders including party president Amit Shah.
Back then, Singh called Kairana a "new Kashmir" and alleged that more than 250 Hindu families had left the town after being allegedly targetted by the minority community.
The NCM report stated: "There seems to be no evidence of any large scale migration and we were assured that there were absolutely no unusual tensions amongst the local Muslim and Hindu communities. We were told that Kairana town has always had a majority Muslim population and that in the aftermath of the 2013 communal violence and the displacement of Muslims caused by it, around 280 Muslim household have settled here and that there is no unusual shift in the town's demography.".
Speaking to Catch, Praveen Davar, who was part of the NCM team, mentioned that according to the 2011 Census, Kairana town had a total population of 89,000 out of which 71,683 were Muslims and 16,320 Hindus.
"There has been no no demographic change as alleged by the NHRC. The town was always predominantly Muslim and 280 families don't change the demographics of a town," he said.
This report comes days after NHRC decided to place the findings of the Uttar Pradesh government and police on the exodus of 250 Hindu families from Kairana in UP before the full panel.
The NHRC report had earlier claimed, "At least 24 witnesses stated that the youths of the majority community (Muslims in this case) in Kairana town pass lewd taunting remarks against the females of the specific minority community in town. Due to this, females of the specific minority community (Hindus) in Kairana town avoid going outside frequently. However, they could not gather courage to report the matter to police for legal action."
NCM's member-in-charge for Uttar Pradesh, Farida Abdulla Khan, who was part of the two member team, had earlier mentioned that certain findings in the NHRC report seemed baseless and there was no evidence to suggest exodus of any kind.
The NHRC report and BJP leaders had also cited organised criminal activity by members of the minority community as another reason for the exodus.
Responding to this, the NCM in its report stated that the locals claimed not enough had been done to curb these activities and that "those involved in the criminal activity seen to have patronage from some sections of the political class as well as the police establishment".
The NCM team was, however, told that the new police chief was making conscious efforts to curb such activities.
Inadequate rehabilitation measures
Meanwhile, on the issue of the status of rehabilitation of those resettled in these districts, the NCM report mentioned that it was disheartening to see that no progress has been made beyond what had been provided more than a year ago.
During its visit to Palada village in Muzaffarnagar, the team noted that the electricity supply for which lines have been installed, are still not operational while 4 out of the 10 hand pumps are not functional.
The report also mentions that despite the assurances given by the administration regarding civic infrastructure no effort has been made to pave the gullies in colony or to lay a sewage system.
"As a result of this, the colony is waterlogged and inhabitants are living under severely strained and extremely unhygienic conditions," read the report.
Moreover, the report also claims the authorities are finding it difficult to carry on the development work due to lack of funds that are released in installments with several conditions attached to their release.
Also, the locals pointed out the absence of basic necessities like clean drinking water and electricity for colonies, and ration cards for those displaced.
During a field visit to Hassan colony in Shamli district, where several houses for the displaced have been built, the two member team noted that infrastructural facilities are "sorely missing" and are similar to that in Muzaffarnagar.
"The homes have no electricity, water quality is extremely polluted and there are no approach roads or pathways within the colonies. Mobility is therefore extremely constrained and living conditions are far from satisfactory," read the report.
Edited by Aditya Menon