New Delhi: The Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Wajahat Habibullah on Sunday took on Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for his remarks against Muslims in the state in an interview.
Gogoi, in an interview to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate, blamed illiteracy amongst Muslims for their population growth.
Saying that the reason for the growth of Muslim population in the state was more local than external, the Chief Minister sought to divert attention from more pressing issues like illegal immigration.
Assam has witnessed week-long clashes between Bodo tribals and Muslims over reasons that are unclear. Nearly 80 people died in the violence that took place in the last week of July. Lakhs were rendered homeless, forced to flee and stay in refugee camps.
Taking on Gogoi, Habibullah said, "It's possible to say that domestic population has increased but to ascribe that to illiteracy is stretching it a little. The Muslim community has benefited by education but it hasn't risen to the same level in comparison to other communities.
"A lot has to be done to promote literacy... The question is to implement the government's programme. Birth rate is higher among Muslims, but whether illiteracy can be a reason is a matter which I would question.
"NCM too had visited Kokrajhar and had concluded that the present crisis hasn't been precipitated by influx of immigrants.
"Muslim community is receptive to education. They want their girl children to be educated. I don't know what facts he has before him, I don't have any such facts but he is the CM who might have some data... but the manner of the statement is inappropriate for the person of the rank of the CM."