The borders of Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana town were sealed on Friday, and prohibitory orders imposed in Shamli district, where it is located. Bhatariya Janata Party MLA Sangeet Som, who was headed to Kairana in a rally with thousands of followers, was stopped at the edge of the town after the restrictions were enforced in connection with the alleged exodus of Hindus from the village, PTI reported.

Som had begun the “Nirbhay” rally from his home in Sardhana in Meerut district. He initially suspended the march after learning that Section 144 had been imposed. The section disallows more than four to five people from gathering in an area. However, he later said they will go ahead with the yatra, but not disrupt law and order in places under the restriction.

The BJP legislator has given the Uttar Pradesh government 15 days to bring back those who had allegedly migrated from the village, failing which he said, party workers take to the streets. “If in 15 days they do not return, we’re warning that no one will be able to stop BJP workers from going to Kairana or to any other place. We’ll follow the law. The senior authorities gave us notice that section 144 of the CrPC [Criminal Procedure Code] was imposed, so we’ve postponed the rally,” he said.

Security has been heightened in Shamli district as a precautionary measure, Meerut District Collector Pankaj Yadav said. Samawadi Party leader Atul Pradhan’s rally was also stopped on the outskirts of Sardhana town, he added. Shamli District Magistrate Sujit Kumar said no political rallies will be allowed to enter the region without permission.

The issue blew up on June 13, after BJP MP Hukum Singh released a list of 346 Hindu families that had allegedly fled Kairana, a Muslim-majority town, claiming that they had been threatened and extorted by “a particular community”. However, it was found that four people on the list had died two decades ago, 13 of them never left Kairana and 68 others had migrated for reasons such as better business and job opportunities. Singh later changed his stance and said the “Hindu exodus” from Kairana was not a communal issue.