Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has proposed family planning as the solution for poverty in minority communities. He said that the minority Muslim community should adopt "a decent family planning policy" to reduce poverty and control social problems.
He was speaking on the occasion of the completion of a month of his government.
"I think we can put an end to a lot of social problems in Assam if the Muslim community adopts decent family planning norms," said the Chief Minister in a press conference. He added that his government will be taking a few more steps to encourage population control.
The Assam government passed a population and women empowerment policy in 2017 which prevented people with more than two children from securing government jobs and contesting in Panchayat and municipal elections. But, the policy is not yet implemented.
He also appealed to organisations such as 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.
He added that his government will work on educating women on the problem of overpopulation. "I hope the community will respect the government's stand on this and work towards this," he added. The CM also urged community leaders to introspect on the same.
Calling his government to be the guardian of all poor people, Sarma said it needs the support of the minority communities in order to tackle the issue of population growth. He also named overpopulation the root cause of issues like poverty, illiteracy, land encroachment, and consequent lack of proper family planning.
In the past month, Sarma's state government has initiated anti-land encroachment drives to remove people from government land and religious sites. This has displaced thousands of settlers from Sipajhar, Sootea, Hojai, and Karimganj.
He said overpopulation is behind land encroachments, and it will eventually result in conflict. "We cannot allow people to illegally settle on forest land or land belonging to temples," he added.