There is no doubt that India’s rapidly increasing population needs to be controlled as the country is expected to surpass China in terms of population in the next few years. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has appealed to the state’s minority community to adopt ‘decent family norms’ in order to bring down the state’s population and eradicate ‘social menaces like poverty’.
On his government’s first month anniversary, Sarma said, “We want to work with the minority Muslim community to control the population explosion. Social menaces like poverty and land encroachment have their roots in the population explosion. We can solve several social problems if the immigrant Muslims can adopt decent family norms…..this is my appeal to them.”
He added, “With increase in population, there will be problems of living space, which in turn will give rise to clashes. It will be too much of expectation from a democratically elected government to allow people to settle on temple and forest land.”
The Assam Chief Minister said, “No one is our enemy. The government is the guardian of every poor man and we want their development. But we need community support. They (immigrant Muslims) have to come forward. Protests will not end their poverty. To end their poverty, we have to educate Muslim women, work on population control….poverty will never be reduced unless they control their population.”
Citing the example of the tribals, Sarma said, “I understand the problem on the other side. The way population explosion is taking place, they also need living space. Instead of criticising the government, they should try to practice small family size. Tribals practice it and have never encroached upon forest lands; rather they have conserved forests and built new ones.”
In the last 10 years, Assam has registered a population growth rate of 16.93 per cent with the population in absolute numbers increasing from 26,638,407 to 31,169,272.
Earlier this week, Sarma pledged to protect the Assamese identity and stated that intruders and encroachers will be evicted from all parts of the state. Sarma took to Twitter to say, “Today I visited Gorukhuti in Sipajhar, Darrang and travelled in a country boat to inspect the riverine areas that were encroached by illegal settlers near Dholpur Shiva Mandir. 120 bigha land of the temple under encroachment of illegal occupants in the area have been freed by Assam Police and district administration. Such squatters would be evicted from all parts of Assam to protect our land and the Assamese identity from encroachers and intruders.”