NEW DELHI, Sept 1 � In what is likely to trigger a fresh controversy, Assam is among the states bordering Bangladesh that have recorded a seven per cent increase in the Muslim population in the 2011 census, as compared to the previous census.
The religion-based figures of the 2011 census, which have been under compilation, are finally ready and the results have the potential to generate a storm in Assam. Several districts in Assam have recorded an increase in the growth rate of the Muslim population between five and seven per cent.
According to reports, the office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) and the Census Commissioner finished compilation of the religion-based data last week, with Assam and West Bengal recording a high growth rate.
The data reveals an increase in absolute terms of the Muslim population over the 2001 census data in nearly all the districts of Assam and West Bengal bordering Bangladesh.
In most districts of Assam and West Bengal bordering Bangladesh, the Muslim population has either become a majority or is threatening to become a majority. The uniform increase of 5-7 per cent clearly shows illegal migration has remained unchecked during the last decade, Home Ministry sources were quoted as having said.
According to the 2011 census, the total population of Assam was 31,169,272. The total population of the State has increased from 26,638,407 to 31,169,272 in the last 10 years, recording a growth rate of 16.93 per cent.
Out of the 27 districts of Assam, eight districts registered a rise in the decadal population growth rate. Muslims dominated the districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon and Hailakandi, recording growth rates ranging from 20 per cent to 24 per cent during the last decade. On the other hand, the eastern Assam districts mostly in upper Assam registered around a nine per cent population growth. These districts do not share any international border.
Meanwhile, the latest figures have shaken the Narendra Modi Government, with the Ministry of Home Affairs drafting a fresh strategy. It plans to make a presentation before the Prime Minister once the strategy is firmed up, said sources.
Last week, at least two meetings were held, chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the latest census report. The meeting was attended by Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami and RGI Dr C Chandramouli.
Sources said the strategy being worked out is to expedite the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The Home Ministry had given a deadline of three years for completion of the entire process.
The final publication of the updated NRC is expected by December 2016. Citizenship being a subject matter of the Central List of the Constitution, approvals of the Government of India are essential in all aspects of NRC updating. Powers to take decisions on operational issues, however, were delegated by the RGI to an empowered NRC Committee of the State Government on June 17.
The Union Home Minister has now issued fresh instructions to complete the process even earlier for identification of illegal migrants.
Sources said that Singh has further asked his officials to draft a Cabinet note on according Schedule Tribe status to the six communities of Koch Rajbongshis, Ahoms, Morans, Mataks, Chutias and adivasis.
The entire process would be fast-tracked now and the Cabinet note would be part of the presentation to be made to the Prime Minister, confided sources.
The Home Ministry estimates that according of ST status to the six communities is likely to cover about 80 Assembly seats, said sources.