If Assam wants to become one of the top five states in India, then we have to manage our population explosion – Himanta Biswa Sarma

Picture : Twitter / ANI

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma met over 150 leading indigenous Muslim personalities from diverse fields and said they all have agreed that population growth is a threat to development of the state.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting in Guwahati, Sarma said a total of eight sub groups will be formed with members from the indigenous Muslim community to suggest various developmental measures.

“Today I met over 150 intellectuals, writers, doctors, artistes, historians and professors among others. We discussed various issues confronting the Assamese minority people,” he added.

All present in the meeting agreed that a “population explosion” in some parts of Assam posed a threat to the development of the state, he added.

“If Assam wants to become one of the top five states in India, then we have to manage our population explosion. This was agreed by all,” Sarma said.

He said that the leading personalities suggested various measures to control population growth in the minority community..

The chief minister also said that the government will be forming eight sub groups with members from the indigenous Muslim community and these will submit reports on development of the community within the next three months.

These sub groups will be created to prepare reports on sectors like health, education, skill development, women empowerment, cultural identity, population stabilisation and financial inclusion, he added.

“These sub groups will discuss the entire range of issues related to the minority community. After compilation of the reports, a roadmap will be created for the community. We will work over the next five years in accordance with that roadmap,” Sarma said.

He said that there will be a Chairman from the community and a Member Secretary from the government in each sub group.

He also told reporters that the next round of meetings will be held with politicians and student bodies representing the minority community.

“In the next few days, I will sit with representatives of the migrant Muslims or Muslim people who originated from East Bengal. There are distinct cultural differences between the two Muslim communities (indigenous and migrant) and we respect that,” he added.

Officials present in the meeting said that representatives of the indigenous Muslim community objected to being labelled as “minority” and instead requested the government to address them as “Assamese people”.

Later, an official release from the Chief Minister’s Office mentioned that Sarma at the meeting said the Assam government organised the interactive programme in order to bring about inclusive development in the state.

“He said the indigenous Muslim population being an integral part of the Assamese society needs accelerated development so that the community becomes a significant contributor in the growth narrative of the state (while) keeping its cultural identity intact,” it added.

Padma Shri awardees Dr Illias Ali and Eli Ahmed were among prominent people from the minority community at the meeting, while Welfare of Minorities Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary and Education Minister Ranoj Pegu participated along with Sarma as part of the government.

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