There is no doubt that India’s population is rapidly increasing and some argue that it 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 had recently 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’. Now, the Assam chief minister has vowed to ensure that the Muslim community brings down its growth rate in the state, and is all set to initiate talks with community leaders in July to fulfil the same.
Speaking to the New Indian Express while outlining his government’s 10-year vision for Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the last two censuses showed that the populational growth among Muslims is 29% whereas the Hindus are growing just at 10%. “We have been able to manage our annual population growth somewhere around 1.6% but if you go beyond statistics, you will realise that the Muslim population is growing almost at 29%. This means poverty, illiteracy will increase among Muslims. So, we need to bring certain measures whereby the growth of the population can be slowed down,” he said.
Sarma also added, “I am in constant touch with various leaders of Muslim society. In order to eradicate poverty and illiteracy, you need an approach that comes from within the community. If we go from outside and take some steps, they will always be interpreted on political lines. But this is not a political issue. This is simply about the well-being of our mothers, sisters, and the community.”
TFI had earlier explained how in Assam – the fortunes of opposition parties like Congress and AIUDF are inseparably tied to encroachers of the minority community illegally occupying vast swathes of forest land. Illegal encroachments turn into illegal settlements which then turn into legalised citizens and favoured vote banks. The BJP government in Assam, however, is proactively working to free such encroached land.
Speaking on the specific issue of encroachments, Himanta Biswa Sarma told the New Indian Express, “I am just acting according to the national policy. It is merely accidental that some of the evicted people belonged to the religious minority community. We evicted Hindus as well two days ago in Guwahati. So, we are not targeting any community but unfortunately, encroachment is higher on that (Muslim) side.”
These land encroachers are mostly illegal Bangladeshis who somehow enter the country and make their way into the voter base. They then vote for parties like the Congress and AIUDF – who let them occupy vast swathes of land in exchange for their continuous votes. This has been going on for years on end, but with the BJP government led by Himanta Biswa Sarma firmly in place, such comforts are being snatched away from the illegal Bangladeshis and land encroachers.
Himanta Biswa Sarma seems committed to ensuring that the Muslims begin exercising restraint in terms of reproduction. With Himanta Biswa Sarma at the helm of affairs in Assam, the state is all set to adopt a strict two-child policy, which will bar individuals from availing benefits under certain state government schemes if they have more than two children.
The decision to gradually adopt a stringent two-child policy came soon after chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had called on the state’s Muslim community to adopt ‘decent family norms’ in order to bring down the state’s population and eradicate ‘social menaces like poverty’. On Tuesday, he once again raised the issue and said, “This policy (two-child policy) is the only way to eradicate poverty and illiteracy in Muslim minorities. It’s for the welfare of the minority community and I don’t think there is any resistance from them.”
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.