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Sep 10, 2012, 03.44 PM IST
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Muslims are outnumbering Hindus in Assam not because of the increase in illegal migration from Bangladesh but because Muslims are illiterate and bear more children.
Speaking to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate, the Chief Minister took full responsibility for the communal riots and said that there were multiple reasons behind it.
Here is an excerpt from the interview:
Speaking on Devil's Advocate with Karan Thapar, the Assam Chief Minister said that his desire to be a part of the Presidential race stemmed from his desire to assert his rights as a citizen of India and as a tribal.
Below is an edited transcript of the interview:
Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to a special Devil's Advocate from Guwahati, an interview with the Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi.
Chief Minister let's start with the recent troubles in your state. Why is Assam so prone to ethnic and communal violence? Is it the demography, is it the geography, is it politics or is it just lack of economic development?
Tarun Gogoi: Of course it is true that Assam is prone to all these clashes. I have seen 1960, 1972, 1983, all along and of course it is a complex state. And of course the reason is socio, economics, sometimes politics also; and economics may be one of the reasons.
Karan Thapar: You are suggesting that there are multiple reasons. The BJP however, says, and many of you opposition leaders in the state say, that the real reason is unrestrained illegal immigration from Bangladesh. You strongly deny that, in which case how do you account for the fact that between 1991 and 2001 the two censuses for which we have accurate data, the Muslim population of districts like Kokrajar, Dubri, Balbata, Narbari, have phenomenally increased?
Tarun Gogoi: You are absolutely right, the Muslim population has increased. But if you look at 2001 census the population growth of Assam is less than national average, almost 3%. Then in 2011 also, in that provision also, growth of the population of Assam is less than national average. So, it is a clear indication that illegal migration has declined.
Karan Thapar: Well, has it because may have grown at a lower rate than the nation as a whole but within Assam the Muslim population in these districts has grown much faster then the Hindu one. Let me quote some of the figures - Kokrajhar, 19% Muslim increased, 5% Hindu, Dhubri, 29% Muslim increased, 5% Hindu, Bongaigaon, 31% Muslim increased, 2% Hindu. Clearly this phenomenal Muslim increase can't be for natural reasons; it is to be because of immigration.
Tarun Gogoi:You see this is because of low literacy. Most of the Muslims are illiterate. Every family has six, seven, eight, nine, 10 members. Literacy is very low, it is because of illiteracy.
Karan Thapar: You seriously are saying that Muslims because they are illiterate are creating more children than Hindus.
Tarun Gogoi: Ya.
Karan Thapar: You really mean that?
Tarun Gogoi: Yes, because of illiteracy. For example, empowerment of women is also done for birth control.
Karan Thapar: This is a very controversial answer Chief Minister. People would say this is tantamount to saying that the illiterate breed more.
Tarun Gogoi: Yes. I believe it 100%. Kerala has the same; the Muslim population growth is higher. Assam is highest, second highest is West Bengal.
Karan Thapar: And in every case you are saying illiteracy is the explanation, not as I'm suggesting illegal immigration from Bangladesh?
Tarun Gogoi: No, immigration has been there. Same case in the tea garden tribes, the birth rate is higher if you compare to Assamese people.
Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you what Hagarama Mohirali, head of the border territorial council has just said, "There are over two lakh illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Bodo districts. You question that?
Tarun Gogoi: I do question. There are no two lakh migrants, I can challenge.
Karan Thapar: What are you estimates for illegal Bangladeshi immigrants?
Tarun Gogoi: I can tell you that even till today the pending cases in the tribunal are less than three lakh. Anybody can register a case. I tell you AGB can into power as you know, total case registered about 4.5 lakh. Out of them many have been disposed off also.
Karan Thapar: So, what is the figure that you believe is the figure for the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants?
Tarun Gogoi: It is very difficult but as it is today the pending case in the tribunal but among them also all are not…
Karan Thapar: So, you are absolutely certain that Mr Mohilari's facts of the two lakh figures alone in the Bodo district is wrong?
Tarun Gogoi: No, no, he has never said it.
Karan Thapar: He said it, he said it clearly to ‘The Indian Express' on August 6.
Tarun Gogoi: He might have said. I tell you, he told that in the camps there are five lakhs or something.
Karan Thapar: Let's not get caught in the figure, the figure might be disputable. The point that I am making is that you strongly and vehemently continue to dispute that illegal Muslim immigration from Bangladesh is a fundamental cause of the troubles we have just seen in Assam.
Tarun Gogoi: I don't disputed it, it's a fact.
Karan Thapar: It's a fact?
Tarun Gogoi: No, no, not the fact that..
Karan Thapar: The fact that migrant wasn't the problem?
Tarun Gogoi: Yeah.
Tags: Devil's Advocate, Tarun Gogoi, Congress, Assam Chief Minister, Assam violence, illegal immigrants, Bangladeshi immigrants, Muslim population, illiteracy
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