Assam will have a ‘population Army’ to distribute contraceptives and create awareness about population control in Muslim-dominated areas of the state, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Assembly on Monday. A 1,000-strong force will be sent to areas in Lower Assam, he said.
The Chief Minister, whose controversial population control proposals have triggered outrage and led to similar attempts from Uttar Pradesh, another BJP-ruled state, told the Assembly of a population explosion in the western and central parts of the state.
“Around 1,000 youths from the char chapori (riverine sand bars) will be engaged to create awareness about population control measures and to supply contraceptives. We are also planning to create a separate work force of ASHA (accredited social health activists) workers who will be tasked with creating awareness about birth control and also supply contraceptives,” he said.
“If population growth among Hindus in Assam was 10 per cent from 2001 to 2011, it was 29 per cent among Muslims,” the Chief Minister added.
He also said: “Owing to a smaller population, lifestyle of Hindus in Assam has become better, with spacious houses and vehicles, and children becoming doctors and engineers.”
However, it is unclear how the Chief Minister arrived at this conclusion.
The Chief Minister has been pushing hard for promotion of measures to counter a population explosion that, according to him, has been driven by the state’s minority populations.
Part of these measures are voluntary sterilisation and enforcement of a two-child limit for couples looking to access state-run welfare schemes.
“The people of Upper Assam will not relate to the struggles that western and central Assam people face due to the burden of higher population,” he said in the Assembly, adding that the state needed to educate people in these high-population areas.