Criminals rule the roost in western Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana city where an organised extortion syndicate has left farmers and traders fearing for their lives.
Nearly 350 families have reportedly fled the area since 2014 due to repeated extortion and threat calls from gangster Mukim Kala.
While locals said the city, falling under Shamli district, has “turned into Pakistan”, BJP MP Hukum Singh accused the Samajwadi Party government for “lawlessness” in the state.
Nearly 350 families have sold their land and houses and fled Kairana due to repeated extortion and threat calls from gangster Mukim Kala
Local traders said extortion calls were made from inside the jail where Kala is currently lodged.
“We are getting threats on phone and through letters. If one refuses to give protection money, he is killed by the henchmen. We have no option but to leave the city to save our lives,” a trader said.
BJP MP and former Union minister Hukum Singh has released a list of the families who have allegedly fled Kairana
Sompal, a farmer, said he received a demand for Rs 10 lakh after he sold a piece of land.
“I was threatened that they will kill me if I refused to pay the money. Police can’t help us. I have sold my land, now I am planning to leave this city forever,” he said.
Another trader, Shiv Kumar Saini said Kairana had “become Pakistan”, where murder, loot and extortion were rampant.
The district magistrate says he has been informed by the MP and got a list from him of the families that have purportedly fled the city.
“We have constituted a committee under the leadership of SDM Kirana to verify the allegation” the DM said.
The issue has also sparked a political tussle in Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are slated to be held next year and parties are wooing various communities and caste groups while using any ammunition available to target rivals.
The BJP announced this week that it would send a 11-member team consisting of MPs, mostly from western UP, to asses the situation.
The local MP claims that 346 families have deserted the Muslim-majority city over the past two years, due to extortion and loot by goons of gangster Mukim Kala who is in jail along with a dozen of his aides on the charges of murder, loot and kidnapping.
Kala allegedly killed three businessmen in 2014, for not paying extortion money.
He still runs an extortion racket from inside jail, say sources.
Many families have shifted to nearby villages in Haryana due to the terror of Kala’s gang.
While BJP MP and Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan has accused the state’s Samajwadi Party government of patronising those behind the violence, rivals have alleged that the BJP is trying to stoke simmering communal tensions in the state for electoral benefits.
The National Human Rights Commission recently issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over the alleged exodus.
It also directed the state’s DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officers for a spot inquiry in the matter covering all the allegations made in the complaint and submit a report within two weeks.
The move came on the heels of a complaint that a Hindu woman was gang-raped and murdered in the area recently, but no action was initiated due to political pressure.
“According to the complaint dated June 10, 2016, a woman belonging to Kashyap caste was abducted, gang-raped and killed, yet no action has been taken by the police against the offenders. Two businessmen, Shankar and Raju, both brothers, were shot dead by the criminals in broad daylight in the market when they did not pay protection money to the criminals,” the NHRC said in a statement.
A lawyer in Kairana, Meherban Qureshi, supported the BJP MP’s claims, saying an atmosphere of fear has gripped the city where “no person has the liberty to roam around freely”.