On Thursday, the Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, urged Muslim residents of the state to adopt a ‘decent family planning policy’ to deal with grinding poverty and chronic social problems, adding that the state will be undertaking few more steps to encourage population control.
“We want to work more for the minority Muslim community to reduce population burden. We want to work together with them so that the population in the state is controlled. The population is the main root of social menace like poverty, land encroachment and we can reduce this social menace if the population is reduced,” Himanta Biswa Sarma told media reporters in Assam.
The remarks were made by Sarma in a press conference organised to mark the completion of one month of his government in the state. In his press conference, he appealed to organisations like the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) and the opposition party, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), to emphasise population control initiatives in the Muslim community.
Sarma said population explosion is the root cause of all social menaces and if that is brought under control, several other issues plaguing the society will be automatically resolved.
Speaking on the initiatives the state is taking to control population explosion and create awareness about its harmful effects, Sarma said, “It has already been rolled out substantially with the two-child norm during the panchayat election, cooperative, municipal election. We are working on it.”
He further added that a population control policy is already in place and will be effective soon. The Assam chief minister said his government wants to work for the minority Muslim community and help them in reducing the population burden.
On the one-month anniversary of his government, he appealed to all the stakeholders to come together and help the government fight the social menaces bedevilling the Assam society.
Besides population control, Himanta Biswa Sarma also spoke on the importance of educating Muslim women. He said his government will focus on imparting education among Muslim women and make them aware of birth control initiatives.
“We want community support to spread education among Muslim women and birth control initiatives. Poverty won’t get reduced unless you control your population. I hope the community will respect the government’s stand on this and work towards this,” Sarma added.
Assam government will not allow encroachment of Satras, Namghars, holy places and forest lands: Himanta Biswa Sarma
The BJP leader also assured that his government will not allow anyone to encroach on Satras, Namghars, holy places, forest lands and the leaders of the community have conveyed to the government that they don’t seek encroachment in these places.
The Assam government has already started eviction drives in many parts of the state to seize the Satras, holy places and forest lands from the grasp of the encroachers. Sarma linked the pervasive encroachment in the state to the inexorable increase in population. He said if the population continues to increase at the same pace, there will be a dearth of living places.
“All this encroachment is happening due to an increase in population. If that trend continues, it will lead to a paucity of living spaces and will result in conflict. Some are saying that such eviction drives shouldn’t happen. But we can’t allow people to illegally settle on forest land or land belonging to temples,” said Sarma.
The Assam chief minister also took cognisance of the rampant smuggling of cattle prevalent along the border regions of the state. He said a law would soon be passed in the next assembly session to curb the illegal smuggling of cattle.
He highlighted the inadequacy of the existing laws that do not consider the transit of cattle as illegal, because of which cattle from other states are transported through Assam and smuggled to Bangladesh through the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya.
AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam slams Himanta Biswa Sarma for conveying the importance of population control and education among Muslim women
Meanwhile, Sarma’s remarks on the need for the Muslim community to work on population control and educating women did not sit well with the detractors, who seemed rattled with his exhortations to the Muslim community to control their population and improve their standard of living.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) slammed CM Himanta Biswa Sarma over his remarks, alleging that the chief minister had deliberately targeted Muslims. AIUDF MLA and party’s General Secretary Aminul Islam criticised Sarma’s statements asking Muslims to institute population control measures and educate their women for getting rid of social problems.
“What Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said it clearly shows that he has targeted a single community, he targeted the Muslim immigrants. The Muslim migrants didn’t oppose the population policy adopted by the Assam government. Everyone thinks there should be birth control. But Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement is a politically motivated statement. The main causes of population rise are illiteracy, poverty, lack of education, lack of social awareness. If the people get proper education, it will be controlled automatically,” Aminul Islam said.