Assam CM vows to slow down the growth of minority population

Agencies
June 29, 2021

Guwahati, June 29: The Assam government will take specific policy measures to slow down the growth of minority population with an aim to eradicate poverty and illiteracy, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

The state government's primary objective is to expand health and educational initiatives, and check the growth of Muslim population through such steps, Mr Sarma said in an interview.

However, there must be an approach that comes from within the community because when the government takes measures from "the outside, it will be interpreted on political lines", he said.

"This is not a political issue, but simply about the well-being of our mothers and sisters and above all, the well-being of the community," the Chief Minister asserted.

Assam has been able to manage its annual population growth at 1.6 per cent, but "when we lift the veil off the statistics, it is found that the Muslim population is growing at a rate of 29 per cent (decadal), whereas the Hindus are growing at 10 per cent", he claimed.

Mr Sarma said he is in constant touch with the leaders of the Muslim community, and he will hold consultations with several organisations next month to create some kind of leadership within the community.

"Our policy parameters will include some incentives for the community like free education for girls till the university level, financial inclusion for minority women, reservation in panchayats and government jobs, and establishment of colleges and universities for women in minority areas," he said.

The incentives will be there, but at the same time if "we focus only on it and ignore the disincentives, then I believe every policy will fail", Mr Sarma said.

"If you are punishing someone for a particular case, then there should also be a reward for someone who is doing something good," he added.

Mr Sarma had recently said his government was planning to introduce a population policy with a two-child norm, and families adhering to it can avail benefits under certain schemes. A similar rule exists for contesting in panchayat elections and in state government jobs.

"It is not that we are going to focus only on the disincentives; in a society, there has to be an approach in which both incentives and disincentives work together," he said.

Asked whether a particular community is being targeted in the eviction drive in the state against encroachers, the Chief Minister said, "It appears like that from outside, but who will allow encroachment of forests? It is merely accidental that some of the evicted people belong to a religious minority community."

The Supreme Court and the high court regularly pass orders to ensure forest cover is not depleting, he said, adding, "it is a national concern and I am acting according to a national policy".

"Recently, some Hindus and Assamese were evicted from an area in the city, and so it is not that we are only targeting minorities. Unfortunately, encroachment is higher in the minority community," he said.

Mr Sarma said as the Chief Minister, it is his duty to protect forests, and for doing so, he does not have to keep in mind which religion the encroachers belong to.

Encroachers become a "separate class for me" and only when the eviction takes place, it comes to the fore whether the people are Hindus or Muslims, he said.

As far as ''Sattras'' (Vaishnav monasteries) and ''Namghars'' (prayer halls) are concerned, the CM said he had appealed in the assembly that neither Hindus should occupy masjid lands nor Muslims ''Sattra'' and ''Namghar'' areas.

"Both the Congress and AIUDF had said they do not want such lands to be encroached... In the political spectrum, there is unanimity that there should be no encroachment of lands belonging to religious institutions," he asserted.

On his other priorities as the Chief Minister, Mr Sarma said Assam has a few typical problems like flood and erosion for which solutions must be found.

"Assam is not among the top brackets of states in terms of infrastructure and social sectors, and my effort will be to improve the infrastructure, social development goals index, maternal and infant mortality rate, among others.

"Resolving the flood and erosion issue requires big money, technology and institutional structure, and we are working towards those. We will, of course, have to be dependent on the Centre for this and I am sure support will be available," he said.

Mr Sarma also said he was committed to resolving various disputes, including issues involving inter-state borders with other northeastern states and evolving a unified vision for the development of the region. 

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News Network
January 26,2023

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam was named as winner of the ICC Men's ODI Cricketer of the Year 2022 award, winning the coveted honour for the second year in a row. He had competition from Australia's leg-spinner Adam Zampa, West Indies' opener Shai Hope and Zimbabwe's off-spin all-rounder Sikandar Raza.

Azam played only nine ODI matches in 2022, but the 28-year-old made them count as he smashed three centuries, a further five half-centuries and only really failed with the bat on one occasion.

He has been at the top of the men's ODI player rankings since July 2021, scoring 679 runs at a stunning average of 84.87 in the nine matches he played in 2022, registering eight scores of more than fifty, three of which he converted into hundreds.

Azam had a memorable year as captain of the Pakistan ODI team, winning three out of three series. Pakistan were unstoppable in the ODI format, losing just one match (against Australia) out of nine.

His best effort in ODIs this year was 114 against Australia in Lahore. Set a daunting target of 349 by Australia, Azam put on a masterclass in chasing a total. Walking out to bat when his team needed 231 from 187 balls, Babar almost took his side home with an exceptional display of shot-making.

Azam brought up his hundred off just 73 balls, his fastest ever in ODI cricket and stuck around till the 44th over. The rest of the batters finished the job as they recorded their highest-ever successful chase in ODIs, with Azam deservedly named Player of the Match.

ICC also said Richard Illingworth won the award for Umpire of the Year in 2022. Illingworth, who played nine Tests and 25 ODIs for England as a left-arm spinner from 1991-1996, had won the honour earlier in 2019 and is now a two-time ICC Umpire of the Year. 

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News Network
January 21,2023

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Mysuru, Jan 21: A woman was killed in a leopard attack at Kannayakanahalli, T Narsipur taluk, Mysuru district last evening. This is the third incident of death due to a leopard attack in the district in the last three months.

The deceased has been identified as Siddamma, 60. She was out to fetch firewood when the leopard pounced on her.

Initial reports said that the leopard tried to drag the woman into the bushes, before letting her go due to the commotion caused by the villagers. The woman was already dead by the time the locals could reach her.

A statement from the state forest department is awaited.

On December 1, 2022, Meghana, 21, was attacked by a leopard in the backyard of her house in T Narasipura taluk’s S Kebbehundi village. She succumbed later at the hospital.

Manjunatha, 21, was mauled to death on October 31 by a leopard on the premises of Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple hills (Ukkalagere Betta) in T Narasipura taluk.

After an intense search and combing operation for over a month, forest officials captured and relocated a leopard on December 23, 2022, which was suspected to have attacked and killed the two youths.

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News Network
January 24,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 24: Conveying his "best wishes" to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Tuesday complimented him for fighting hatred and violence by spreading the message of harmony among people.

The JD(S) supremo has also expressed his inability to participate in the concluding function of the Yatra in Srinagar on January 30.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has invited leaders of several like-minded parties to join the concluding function in Srinagar.

In a letter to Kharge, thanking for the invitation, Gowda said, "It is appropriate that the function is being organised on the day the father of the nation (Mahatma Gandhi) attained martyrdom."

"I may not be able to attend the function in person, but my best wishes are with Rahul Gandhi. He is fighting hatred and violence and has walked 3,500 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir spreading the message of harmony among people.

Please convey my deep appreciation to him," the 89-year-old leader said.

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