After Meeting With Muslim Leaders, Assam Government Forms Sub-Groups On Population Control
CM Himanta Biswa Sarma met over 150 indigenous Assamese Muslim leaders from diverse fields in the first such meeting of the Assam government with the leaders of indigenous Muslim communities since independence.
In a recent interview, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had defended the state government's move to provides incentives as well as disincentives to control population growth in the state.
Before that, he had advised Muslims in the state to adopt “decent” family planning measures.
“Today, we have been able to manage our annual population growth to somewhere around 1.6 per cent, but further dissection of the past two censuses shows that the Muslim population in Assam has been growing at 29 per cent and Hindus are growing at just 10 per cent. This means there will be a lot of poverty and illiteracy among Muslims," he said.
Yesterday (4 July), Sarma met over 150 indigenous Assamese Muslim leaders from diverse fields, the first such meeting of the Assam government with the leaders of indigenous Muslim communities since independence.
The meeting was held at Assam Administrative Staff College in Guwahati and ministers Ranoj Pegu, Chandra Mohan Patowary and other senior government officials were also present.
The government subsequently decided to constitute eight sub-groups toward stabilising the State’s population.
Each group would work in specific sectors such as health, education, financial inclusion and women empowerment, besides population stabilisation. They will help the state prepare a five-year road map towards population control, which is the agenda for the next similar meeting between the chief minister and the Muslim leaders.
Sarma told the press that the participants of the meeting agreed on the “real threat” the population explosion in some parts of Assam posed to the development of the state in an “economic sense”.
“If we have to be among the top five States, we have to manage our population explosion,” Sarma said. He added that the Muslim leaders had themselves sought the formation of sub-groups to achieve the goal of population control.
“The indigenous Muslim population, being an integral part of Assamese society, needs accelerated development so that the community becomes a significant contributor in the growth narrative of the state, keeping its cultural identity intact,” Sarma said.
The Chief Minister underlined the cultural distinction between migrant Muslims who settled in Assam a little more than a century ago and indigenous Assamese Muslims who have a 600-year-old history.
"We discussed various issues confronting the religious minority communities of Assam, particularly the indigenous Assamese Muslims. They have a distinct identity and a rich cultural tradition and heritage. The meeting emphasised that the uniqueness of indigenous Assamese Muslims should be protected and preserved,” Sarma said.
The Chief Minister is also scheduled to meet the organisations and leaders of Bengal-origin migrant Muslims (who trace their roots to East Bengal or present day Bangladesh) for a similar initiative, one in a series of meetings in the next three months on population management.
Sarma will also meet the representatives of political parties besides leaders of social and students’ organisations.
On June 20, the Assam government said that it would strictly follow two-child norms from 12 July, which would be a criterion to get government jobs and the benefits under the state-sponsored welfare schemes.
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