GUWAHATI, March 15 (PTI): Accusing the Congress of shedding crocodile tears for minorities and not doing anything for them when in power, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday claimed that the community was currently living in the “most peaceful atmosphere” ever in the state.
He also asserted that his government will continue its crackdown on illegal activities, such as eviction drives from forest areas, child marriages and other criminal activities, and the police will not deter taking recourse to firing in self-defence.
Sarma was replying to a discussion of Vote of Thanks on the Governor’s speech in the state Assembly.
Referring to the ongoing eviction drives in the state, especially from forest and protected areas, Sarma said these were being carried out mostly as per court orders and as per laws enacted during Congress regimes.
“Just as the Congress had exempted the tribals from eviction from forest lands while making the law, they should have included people of minority communities also or those affected by erosion, etc.
“They (Congress) should stop shedding crocodile tears for the minorities now,” he said.
Sarma claimed that the Muslims are living in the “most peaceful atmosphere” ever in the state and development activities, like construction of roads, educational institutions and houses, are going on in full swing through different government schemes.
He asserted that eviction drives will continue and if MLAs feel that “genuine citizens, with bona fide reasons” are being affected, they can request for some time to get these people re-settled before the operation is undertaken.
Linking encroachment with population growth, Sarma said, “Eviction is not the real problem. Population explosion is the real issue and if we can’t control it, pressure over land will continue.”
He maintained that the drive against child marriage is a step towards controlling population as well as saving young girls from falling victim to this social evil.
“Every six months we will arrest busloads of offenders…Democracy’s roller on child marriage will continue,” he said, adding that his target was to eradicate it from the state by 2026.
Sarma also claimed that an equal number of Hindus and Muslims have been arrested in the ongoing operation against child marriage, which was launched in an intensified manner on February 3 this year.
While pointing out that no Muslim has been a victim of any communal violence in the state in recent times, it is beyond anyone’s control if criminals killed in police action belonged to the community, the CM said.
“If the criminals do not want to be shot, they must lift their hands when apprehended instead of trying to pull out the revolver. It is not the old Assam Police. I am happy that my police are replying to bullets in the same language,” Sarma, who also holds the Home portfolio, said.
He, however, added that police action has to be within the law and whenever any personnel is found erring, even if he or she is a senior officer, they will face punitive measures.