Guwahati: The indigenous Muslim community of the Assam have agreed on the proposed two-child policy, said Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday. Addressing the press following an interactive session with intellectuals of the community, Sarma said the state has to manage population expulsion if they have to be among the top five states in the country.   

The interactive session Alaap-Alochana is his government’s major activity to empower the religious minorities and give a major push to inclusive development in the state. However, the Bengali-speaking Muslim community was not invited to the interaction. 

He said that 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, keeping its cultural identity intact.

“Today… We have discussed various issues confronting the religious minorities of Assam, more particularly the indigenous Assamese Muslims. They have a rich culture, tradition and heritage. The meeting has emphasized that the uniqueness of the indigenous Assamese Muslim should be protected and preserved,” said Sarma to the journalists. 

“However, in the broader landscape, it has been agreed that the population explosion in some parts of Assam had posed a real threat for development, particularly in an economic sense,” he added.

“If we have to be among the top five states in the country, we have to manage our population explosion,” he said, emphasizing his government’s proposed two-child policy for availing benefits under state-funded schemes. 

Upon asked by journalists why the Bengali-speaking Muslim community was not invited, he said, “Two communities have a distinct cultural difference, [in terms of] language and culture. We have to respect that distinct identity. We will interact with them…There will be series of meeting on population management, next I’m meeting with the migrant Muslims (Bengali-speaking Muslims) to discuss this.”

He informed that to achieve the end-goal of the interaction, the Assam Government will form eight sub-groups with representatives of the indigenous Muslim community to deliberate on issues such as health, education, skill development, population stabilisation, preservation of cultural identity, financial inclusion, and women empowerment etc. of the community. 

He said that the sub-group will come up with recommendations on their assigned matters after a detailed discussion within 3 months. “Based on the recommendations, the state government will prepare a roadmap for the empowerment of the indigenous Muslim population of the state which will be implemented over 5 years,” he added. 

Last week, Sarma said that there is no resistance from the Muslim community and they have welcomed the proposal to adopt a good family planning policy. “The two factions of the All-Assam Minority Students’ Union met me twice in the past one month and openly welcomed [two-child policy], saying Assam’s Muslims need population-control measures,” he told journalists last week.

His government may present a bill regarding the two-child policy in the budget session this month. If passed, it would allow for state government jobs and state-funded schemes for those with up to two children. 

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