NEW DELHI, Aug 26 - The 2011 Census data has the potential to trigger a political storm in Assam, as the Muslim voters in the State may now hold sway over 49 Legislative Assembly Constituencies out of 126 seats.
According to the latest Census report, the number of Muslim-dominated districts has increased from 6 to 9 districts. The districts which saw a Muslim growth included Barpeta, Dhubri, Karimganj, Goalpara, Darrang, Bongaigaon, Hailakandi, Nagaon and Morigaon. These districts together account for 49 of 126 Assembly seats.
The break-up of the Constituencies is as follows: Karimganj � 5 seats, Hailakandi � 3, Dhubri � 7, Bongaigaon � 4, Barpeta � 8, Darrang � 4, Morigaon � 3, Nagaon � 11 and Goalpara � 4.
As reported, Dhubri district has recorded the highest Muslim population of 79.67%, followed closely by Barpeta (70.73%). The Muslim population accounts for 57.52% in Goalpara, Darrang 64.33%, Nagaon 55.35%, Morigaon 52.56%, Karimganj 56.36%, Hailakandi 60.31% and Bongaigaon 50.22%.
Meanwhile, interestingly, the population growth in Muslim-majority Kashmir has recorded an increase of only 1.3%, while in Assam the Muslim population has increased by 3.3%.
In the Northeast, while Assam has recorded the highest increase in share of Muslim population, from 30.9% to 34.22%, Manipur is the only State to show a fall in Muslim population. The lowest rise is in Meghalaya, Odisha and Arunachal (0.1%).
Other States that showed high increase in share of population are Uttarakhand (2%), Kerala (1.9%), West Bengal (1.8%), Goa (1.6%) and J&K (1.3%).
Jammu and Kashmir (68.3%), Assam (34.2%) and Bengal (27%) have the largest share of Muslims.
Significantly, Tripura, a State bordering Bangladesh, has recorded a marginal growth of 0.6% from 8 per cent in 2001 to 8.6 per cent in 2011, according to the Census data on the population of religious groups.
The most rapid rise in the share of Muslims in the total population witnessed in Assam has sent Home Ministry officials into a tizzy. While no official reasons were cited for the sharp increase of Muslim population in Assam, illegal infiltration from Bangladesh is feared to be the prime reason behind the unusual decadal growth rate, officials admitted.
Sources said that the Census data was ready to be released during the UPA regime but the Manmohan Singh-government decided to play safe and withhold it�s release.
The NDA government also held several rounds of meetings with RGI officials, while Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired at least a couple of meetings before it was decided to release the data, said sources.