New Delhi, Sept. 15: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today proposed incentives for small families and spoke of literacy programmes in the backward pockets of the state.
Broaching the subject of birth control with issues of fencing international borders and illegal migration, Gogoi said he was in favour of families having no more than two or three children.
His statement assumes significance in the light of the discourse on illegal migration and the high rate of population growth in some parts of the state.
“We are thinking of birth control methods….we already have, but we want to make it compulsory in the sense that those wanting to have more children may not get all benefits,” he told reporters. Of India's 2.21 billion population, 31.16 million live in Assam.
Dispelling the impression that he has in the past spoken about illiteracy among Muslims linked to their population, Gogoi said illiteracy had nothing to do with religion. “I said illiteracy is high — it has nothing to do with religion. It has been said by Nitish Kumar and Sachar Committee also …that checking fertility can be done only through education.”
He said the state government was looking at literacy projects for social and economic empowerment of marginalised populations, be it Muslims, Scheduled Tribes or Morans, Muttocks or tea tribes who were not in the Scheduled Tribe list. He added that special programmes on education and economic development will be started in Majuli and Tinsukia besides lower Assam.
On the problem of illegal migration, Gogoi said of the 4.51 lakh cases of suspected illegal migrants registered in Assam since 1985, 1.18 lakh cases had been disposed of. “Of the 60,909 foreigners detected in these years, only 2,431 were deported…Our deportation record is bad,” he said, adding that Bangladesh was not ready to accept many people detected as foreigners. Moreover, many sneak back.
Gogoi also conceded that illegal migration continued into Assam but added that it was on the decline. He said there was no state in India that faced migration of the scale witnessed by Assam.
On persisting doubts about illegal migrants in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), Gogoi said there were a “good number of foreigners”, but no foreigner would be rehabilitated. “Only Indian citizens will be able to stay,” he said.
On the issue of foreigners’ tribunals, he said he had proposed hiring practising lawyers to work as judges by amending the Foreigners (Tribunal) Amendment Order, 2012 that lays down the procedure for tribunals to function.
He dismissed AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal’s allegation that violence in BTAD was because of internal fighting within the Congress. “I don’t agree that internal fighting (in Congress) led to the incidents (in BTAD),” he said. He, however, did not deny there was fighting within the party’s ranks in Assam.
Asked about Ajmal’s reported attempts to meet Sonia Gandhi for a ministerial berth, Gogoi retorted, “Good luck to him. My dua (prayer) is that Allah be kind to him, but Allah has not been kind till now.”
The AIUDF has been under fire for provoking communal sentiments during the BTAD violence that left 97 people dead.