Family planning advise: Assam CM says his concern is poverty alleviation

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Nagpur, Jun 11 (PTI) Defending his controversial remarks that the minority community in his state should adopt 'decent family planning policy', Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said it was necessary for poverty alleviation, and no communal motive should be attributed to his statement.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the organization's headquarters here.

'Immigrant Muslims in Assam are very poor and often their landholdings are also small. But the problem is that in one or two generations the average ratio of children is 6 to 12 in a family. In some families it is up to 20 children,' he said.

With division of property in every generation, the landholdings shrink and the community faces poverty which increases pressure on schools and hospitals, Sarma said.

Poverty alleviation programs do not succeed because the population gets increasing, he said.

'What I said was there should be 'decent' family size, I did not say there should be one or two children. I did not mention any numbers. I only said they should have a decent family planning and let the community decide what is decent for them,” Sarma said.

Assamese Muslim families (as against immigrants) have two or three children and they do not have this issue, he said.

'I feel that if you want to fight poverty, illiteracy and migration due to small landholdings, then you can adopt decent family planning for the welfare of the community, otherwise the numbers will go up and you will be economically poor. I only meant that and this should not be seen with communal angle,' he said.

Referring to recent evictions of a number of families from 'encroached land' in three districts of Assam, Sarma on Thursday had urged the minorities to adopt a decent family policy, saying that increased population leads to poverty, shrinking of living space and consequent land encroachment.

It drew sharp reactions from opposition Congress which claimed that Sarma's remarks were 'certainly misinformed and misleading', while the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) claimed that the rate of increase in population among some other communities is higher than that of the minorities. PTI CLS KRK KRK

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