Hukum Singh (1938-2018), BJP MP for Kairana: A troubling legacy

Hukum Singh, who passed away on February 3, has been a 7-time MLA. His recent record over the past 5 years has left a troubling legacy of communal polarisation that still haunts western Uttar Pradesh

Wikimedia Commons (left); National Herald (right)
Wikimedia Commons (left); National Herald (right)
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NH Political Bureau

Hukum Singh, the BJP MP from Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh, passed away at a private hospital in Noida late on February 3, family members said. He was 79. The veteran leader, who had a considerable hold in the Gujjar community, had been admitted to the Noida hospital a few days back, due to some breathing problems. Minutes before his death, state BJP President Mahendra Nath Pandey had visited him at the hospital, a party leader said.

A law graduate from Allahabad University, Singh served a stint in the army, and was posted in Poonch and Rajouri sectors in Kashmir during the 1965 war with Pakistan. He subsequently left the army and resumed his legal career in Muzaffarnagar, before entering entered active politics in 1974. He first entered the Uttar Pradesh assembly as a Congress MLA. Singh won seven terms as MLA in Uttar Pradesh, and served in the Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath Singh and Mayawati governments in the state.

Singh's actions during his last stint as MLA became the springboard to his first Lok Sabha seat.

At Shamli in 2013, as the then BJP legislature party leader, Hukum Singh had made objectionable statements calling Muslims rapists and for the first time used the slogan 'bahu-beti bachao'. On the basis of this slogan, a mahapanchayat was organised in Sikheda, Muzaffarnagar and then the riots of 2013 broke out. Shamli was the most hit by violence during the riots. He had made a further inflammatory speech at the mahapanchayat, for which he was booked. In the Lok Sabha elections that followed, the communal polarisation in the entire region paid rich dividends for Hukum Singh. He won every assembly segment of Kairana Lok Sabha seat with big margins.

Hukum Singh again shot to prominence in the months before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, when he peddled an inflammatory story that Muslims forced 346 Hindu families to flee from Kairana and that there was an imminent danger of Muslims turning into a majority in the area, kicking up another communal storm. A delegation of Opposition leaders then visited Kairana for a fact-finding and subsequently said that people had voluntarily migrated for economic reasons and due to poor law and order in the area. Yet the BJP continued to use the bogey of forced migration of Hindus from Kairana in its assembly election campaign.

Hukum Singh over the last five years of his career has left a troubling legacy of communal polarisation that still haunts western Uttar Pradesh, which continues to see bursts of communal violence from time to time, amid an uneasy calm with polarisation always just under the surface.

With IANS inputs.

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