Muslims in Assam asked to control population amid eviction of nearly 100 families from ‘Govt land’

‘Many are calling the eviction an anti-Muslim drive by the BJP Govt’

Assam: Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma has appealed to the state’s ‘immigrant Muslim’ population to adopt a “decent family planning” practice.

Sarma, who completed his first month in office on Thursday, said that he would work with the Muslim organizations to ‘educate Muslim women on the necessity for population control’ to eradicate poverty and encroachment of land and ease the pressure on land.

Quoting Sarma, a report published in Times of India, said: “We want to work with the minority Muslim community to control the population explosion. Social menaces like poverty and land encroachment have their roots in the population explosion. We can solve several social problems if the immigrant Muslims can adopt decent family norms…this is my appeal to them.”

“With increase in population, there will be problem of living space, which in turn will give rise to clashes. It will be too much of expectation from a democratically elected government to allow people to settle on temple and forest land,” the Chief Minister was quoted further saying.

Sarma’s comments came after several Muslim organizations and people’s representative have criticised the government for series of ‘encroachment drives’ across the state in last few days to evict ‘encroachers on temple and forest land’.

Last week, nearly 100 families were evicted from ‘government land’ in Assam, The move, amidst the ongoing pandemic, has left the organisations representing the minorities angry, with many calling it an “anti-Muslim drive” by the BJP government.

The eviction drive was intensified after the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government took charge on May 10.

“Many of these people occupied government land after their houses were eroded by rivers. They are so poor that they can’t buy another plot and did not get any compensation,” Aminul Islam, general secretary of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the opposition party led by Badruddin Ajmal, told reporters. The AIUDF, which contested the Assembly elections in alliance with Congress and five other parties, won 16 of 126 Assembly seats.

“These people are suspected to be Bangladeshis just because they are Bengali-speaking Muslims. If the government can prove that they are foreigners, they should be deported. If they are Indians, it is the responsibility of the democratically-elected government to rehabilitate them,” he said.

All Assam Minorities Students’ Union (AAMSU) adviser Ainuddin Ahmed said the targeted eviction of Muslims was part of the polarisation politics of BJP.

Although Congress has not yet reacted strongly, party MP from Barpeta Abdul Khaleque wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court on June 6, seeking the court’s intervention to stop the eviction amid the pandemic. “This immoral and inhuman action has put the families, including women and children, at the risk of getting infected with coronavirus as they have been rendered homeless,” Khaleque said while referring to the eviction at Kaki.

Aman Wadud, a lawyer at the Gauhati High Court, said the eviction drives were politically motivated and targeted at Muslims only.

“In January this year, the government provided land pattas (documents) to 1.6 lakh, indigenous landless people. But on the other hand, after getting re-elected, the BJP government is evicting landless Muslims out of their homes. This is grossly partisan and the discriminatory action of the government is in violation of Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution. This government is attacking the very foundational concepts of the Constitution,” he said.


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