As the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) fact-finding committee makes rounds of Kairana to probe its MP’s claim of a Hindu exodus, merely five km away in Jahanpura, Najma Khan nurses her two-year-old daughter in her one-storeyed house.Najma is the younger sister of local gangster Mukeem Khan, now known as Mukeem Kala in Kairana. Recently, Mukeem’s name started popping up in discussions among villagers, nearly two years after he was arrested in a double murder case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP MP Hukum Singh had created a stir last week after claiming extortionists from “a particular religion” were forcing Hindu families to leave their homes. As soon as the word rangdari (extortion) comes up in village discussions, it makes Najma sit up and worry.”Even though two of my brothers are in jail, my family isn’t a bit relieved,” says Najma, while her youngest brother Azam roams about in what seems like a room used to receive guests. Two of the prominent features of the room include a sewing machine in a corner and a table fan in the other.It was here that Mukeem bid his parents goodbye six years ago, before leaving to work at a construction site in the neighbouring Haryana. Days later, the family would come to know that Mukeem has been accused of a robbery.—Home of Mukeem Khan, the most prominent names in Kairana’s underworld has been prison since 2014. “The police told us that my brother robbed jewellery from someone’s home. He was only 18 then and might have been influenced. But what happened to us later turned him into what he is today,” says Najma.According to her, after that, the local police searching for Mukeem started harassing her family routinely. He was arrested, imprisoned for eight months and later released on bail. But Mukeem seemed to have made up his mind in prison. Six years down the line, he was heading a crew of 29 men and had 30 cases registered against him, including murder, attempted murder, extortion and robbery. He was also rechristened as Kala. “I don’t like that name. He is Mukeem to me,” says Najma.The family faced even more trouble when Mukeem’s younger brother Waseem got involved with him. In fact, Waseem was an accused in the only registered case of extortion in Kairana this year. “The police have stopped harassing us but now with the exodus story, I am afraid we will be in trouble again,” says Najma.Ehsan, a relative, says, “The family does not own any land. Mukeem’s father Mustakeem works on fields owned by a zamindar named Mahinder. He earns Rs200-300 a day. The amount was even lesser when Mukeem left home to find work. He was studying but had to quit as he was the eldest among six siblings.” He adds that Mukeem might be a criminal but he does not hate any religion.”I know for a fact that he wanted to leave the crime world and follow in the footsteps of Sompal Singh, who has now become a pradhan.” Now the village head of Khandravali, Sompal has 23 cases registered against him.In its prime, the Mukeem Kala gang had 29 members, of whom 25 have now been arrested. Four gang members were gunned down. Two escaped the police custody but one of them, nicknamed as Dr Israr, was arrested soon afterwards. Vajid, the other accused who escaped, is still absconding, while Subash is the latest arrested member, says police.Mukeem’s journey from a criminal to an aspiring village head might have been cut short but one thing that surprised Jahanpura villagers is the allegation that he targeted only Hindu businessmen.”If for a minute we accept that Mukeem targeted members of a particular community, what explains the fact that some of his trusted aides had names like Neeraj, Sachin and Subash?. His gang is involved in 2013 murder of a local businessman named Haider and two of his family members,” said a police officer.”On a lighter note, people would be surprised to see religious tolerance of Kairana criminals for each other. Their only job is to target innocent civilians and police. We have been defeating them and will continue to do so,” the officer adds, naming some of the other prominent gangsters of Kairana who are now in jail. “Furkan, Sadar, Surinder Kala, Vipul Khooni – The list goes on.”

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Notorious Kairana gangsters’ targets were not based on religion, say police