Assam CM tells Muslims to adopt ‘decent family planning’ measures
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday urged the Muslim community in the state to adopt ‘decent family planning’ norms to bring down poverty and control social problems and added that the state government will take few more steps to encourage population control.
“We want to work with the minority Muslim community to control population. The root cause of issues like poverty, land encroachment etc. lies in uncontrolled population growth. I think we can put an end to lot of social problems in Assam if the Muslim community adopts decent family planning norms,” Sarma told reporters in Guwahati.
Addressing a press conference to mark completion of first month of his government, Sarma appealed to organisations like the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) and opposition party, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), to focus on population control initiatives in the Muslim community.
“Assam government is going to take few more steps which should encourage population control. I want to work with AAMSU and AIUDF on this. There should new thought on this. No community or section is our enemy, and we want development of everyone,” he said.
“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.
In 2017, the Assam assembly had passed a ‘population and women empowerment’ policy, which prevented people having more than two children from securing government jobs. It also prevented such persons from contesting panchayat and municipal elections. The policy is yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, AIUDF termed the CM’s statement on population control a political statement targeting one community. “It is not proper for the CM to target one community over this issue as we have seen that spurt in population is also seen among scheduled caste (SC) communities and tribals. We also want population to be controlled, but the government should focus on issues like illiteracy, poverty etc. that are the prime factors for uncontrolled population growth,” said Md. Aminul Islam, Mankachar MLA and organising secretary of AIUDF.
Since coming to power, the Bharatuya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has started a campaign to remove encroachments from government land and also from religious sites. Anti-encroachment drives in different places have uprooted thousands of settlers from Sipajhar, Sootea, Hojai and Karimganj.
“All this encroachment is happening due to increase in population. If that trend continues, it will lead to paucity of living spaces and will result on 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.
Terming illegal smuggling of cattle as a big problem, the CM said a new law would be passed in the next assembly session on it.
Sarma said that since existing laws in the state do not consider transit of cattle as illegal and cattle from other states are transported through Assam and smuggled to Bangladesh through the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya.
“In the next assembly session in July, we will pass a law, making transit of cattle through the state illegal. With imposition of this new legislation, Assam will have the power to fight with this menace. In the interim, we have stopped transit of cattle through an executive order. Since coming to power, we have been able to almost put an end to this illegal trade,” he said.