| Inmates at a relief camp in Chirang district. File picture |
Guwahati, Oct. 17: The National Commission for Minorities has sought access to the statistics that made Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi blame illiteracy for the high growth of population among Muslims in the state.
Wajahat Habibullah, chairperson of the commission, in a recent letter to Gogoi said they would be interested to have access to the statistics that may have led to the conclusion that illiteracy has been the direct cause of population growth.
“The exact figures should make it possible for the minorities commission to work with the Assam government in providing access to education for the illiterate sections of the Muslim community across the state,” Habibullah said.
Gogoi had triggered a controversy by blaming low literacy levels among the Muslims for the population growth and the demographic changes in Assam.
Last month in an interview to a TV channel, Gogoi had said that Muslims were outnumbering Hindus in Assam not because of illegal influx but because of the large increase in Muslim population.
The statement made in the wake of ethnic clashes in the BTAD and Dhubri district had irked people of the community, who termed it as insensitive and baseless.
“It is a known fact that the level of illiteracy among Muslims is higher than the national average, which was highlighted in the Planning Commission’s Human Development Report, 2011. However, the relationship of illiteracy to high population growth in Assam is not known by the commission,” Habibullah said in his letter.
The chairperson said the government already has programmes, notably the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities and Multi-sector Development Programme, which are aimed at promoting education among minorities, in 91 minority-concentrated districts in the country.
According to Habibullah, if they can have access to the statistics with the Assam government which indicates illiteracy causes high population growth among Muslims, then the commission and government can jointly work towards eradication of illiteracy.