Express News Service
GUWAHATI: Calling upon the minority community to adopt “decent family planning policy” for poverty reduction, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday warned that there would be conflicts over land in future if the state’s population continued to explode.
The statement comes against the backdrop of eviction drives carried out at some places which drew criticism from some minority-based organisations.
“Some political parties and organisations are seeking the rehabilitation of people evicted. If the state’s population keeps growing, a day will come when there will be a problem of living space and it will create conflicts,” Sarma told journalists.
“The population is rising and people will need living space. I want to tell those who are saying there should not be any eviction drive that the government cannot allow people to settle down in forests, temples and ‘satras’ (Vaishnavite prayer centres),” he said.
Asking the minority-based political party All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) to think and work on population control, Sarma said a day would come when people would settle down on the land of Kamakhya temple. Since this will not be allowed by others, this will lead to conflicts, he said.
He also said that the Assam government would take some more steps to encourage population control and urged AIUDF and AAMSU to work on this front. The government stands for the development of all communities but it will need community support, he said.
“To remove poverty, we have to educate Muslim women and control population. We are there to educate women and reduce poverty. However, poverty will never get reduced unless you control your population,” Sarma said.
If the Bodos and the Mishings had not practised small family size, they would have also been forced to go to forests and settle down there. In the last 20 years, no Bodo or Mishing encroached upon forest land. They adopted a different lifestyle to live with forests. They have conserved forests and created new ones, the CM said.
Recently, the authorities evicted around 200 encroachers, mostly migrant Muslims, from over 400 bighas of government land in Hojai, Karimganj and Darrang districts. The AAMSU urged the government to stop harassing the minority people under a “communal agenda”.
The Muslims constitute around 33% of Assam’s 3.30 crore population.