Guwahati, Jun 11 (PTI) The opposition Congress and
AIUDF along with a minority student body on Friday termed
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma''s statement asking
the minority community to adopt a decent family planning
policy as "unfortunate, frivolous and misleading".
Referring to recent evictions of a number of families
from "encroached land" in three districts of the state, the
chief minister on Thursday had urged the minority community to
adopt the policy saying that increased population leads to
poverty, shrinking of living space and consequent land
The state Congress claimed that Sarma''s remarks on
"population explosion" in Assam are "certainly misinformed and
misleading", while the All India United Democratic Front
(AIUDF) claimed that the rate of increase in population among
some other communities is higher than that of the minorities.
The All Assam Minority Students'' Union (AAMSU) said
that the population problem can be resolved by ensuring proper
education and health facilities for the people.
According to the 2011 Census, Muslims comprise 34.22
per cent of Assam''s total population of 3.12 crore and they
in majority in several districts. While Christians form
per cent of the total number of people in the state, the
percentage of Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains is much less than
The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) said that
this is highly unbecoming of a chief minister who is expected
to be well versed in the demographic facts of his state.
As per the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS)
undertaken by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
and released in December 2020, the total fertility rate (TFR)
across most Indian states have declined in the last five
years, APCC spokesperson Bobbeeta Sarma said.
According to the NHFS, the fertility rate of women in Assam
has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 1.9 in 2020-21, which
means the future population of the state will be less than
what it is now and there is no question of its increase, she
"If, however, the chief minister is referring to the
population explosion that may happen in future due to
immigration of people from Bangladesh and Pakistan because of
implementation of CAA, then perhaps his concern is valid,"
The Congress, however, would like to assure Sarma that
the party will take definite steps in that case and do its
best to prevent such encroachments, she added.
The AIUDF, an alliance partner of the Congress, also
termed the chief minister''s statement targetting only the
minorities responsible for population explosion as
"unfortunate and not proper for a person holding that post".
Population increase in Assam is lower than the
national growth and it is also less compared to some other
states, AIUDF spokesperson and MLA Aminul Islam said.
Studies have shown that the rate of growth of many
scheduled castes and tribes is higher than that of the
minority community, he claimed.
Besides, social scientists have pointed out that
poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness were mainly responsible
for population increase and the state government should focus
on these issues instead of targetting a particular community,
"The people of the community have already supported
the government in the case of the two-child norm for election
to panchayats and in government jobs," he pointed out.
The chief minister must take all communities into
confidence to solve the problem of population and this can be
only done if the government takes measures to ensure education
facilities, employment opportunities and create social
awareness in the ''char'' or riverine and other backward areas,
AAMSU president Rejaul Islam Sarkar said that the
chief minister''s statement that minority women have to be
educated so that they do not give birth to many children lacks
sincerity and is frivolous.
"We have been working to create awareness among the
community members for the last five years and nowadays nobody
gives birth to 10 to 12 children. The population problem can
be resolved by ensuring proper education and health
facilities," he said.
Sarma had earlier served as the education minister and
"if he really had the intention to solve the issue and ensure
development, he could have initiated measures to remove
illiteracy and poverty", Sarkar said.
The AMSU chief said that the chief minister should
also focus on providing land to more than 30,000 people who
have been rendered homeless by erosion caused by the
"If people are provided with land, they will not be
forced to encroach temple, forest or any other land to be
later again evicted from there. Nobody is in favour of
encroachment but they must have land and a home to live in",
he added. PTI DG