Assam builds youth team to help 'control' population in Muslim-dominated areas
Assam is readying a ‘team’ of youth who would visit the lower parts of the state to create ‘awareness’ on measures to control population and supply contraceptives after chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday termed population explosion as the “root cause of economic disparities and poverty among minority Muslims” in the state.
Speaking at the state assembly, Sarma said around 1,000 youths from the riverine sand bars of lower Assam would be roped in to fight what he called “population explosion”. They would also be tasked with supplying contraceptives among the community members in the region.
“We are also planning to create a separate workforce of ASHA workers who shall be responsible for creating awareness about birth control and also supply contraceptives,” news agency ANI reported quoting Sarma as saying at the assembly.
The Assam chief minister drew parallels between the population growth of two primary religious communities in the state to say, "if population growth among Hindus in Assam was 10% from 2001 to 2011, it was 29% among Muslims."
BJP-ruled states such as Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Lakshadweep have been mulling to bring population control policies that would limit government benefits to people with more than children. Lakshadweep wants to bring legislation that would bar any person with more than two children from contesting panchayat polls or even make them ineligible from becoming a member of the village council.
However, veteran Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh had last week questioned the rationale behind the move and called the motive "purely political and communal."
Sarma, meanwhile, brushed aside the criticism of the Congress and called for delinking on delinking of the population issue from politics.
The Assam chief minister stressed that the drop in population growth among the Hindus in the state led to an improvement in their lifestyle and education level while "with a 29% growth rate, the Muslims are currently in a state of crisis."
He said he sought the cooperation of the opposition Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in fighting population explosion for the prosperity of all.