The Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission has moved to propagate the need for population control in the Muslim majority districts of the state, a move which is seen as a precursor to the state government’s plan to to enact population control legislation in the most populous state.
“We are setting up a team to collect feedback on population control from districts with more than 25% minority population. The idea is to tell the community that more chiefs will not bring more prosperity because resources are limited,” said Ashfaq Saifi, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission.
He said comments collected by the commission team would be submitted to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker Satish Mahana and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
The move is significant because in September 2021 Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said a “Population Control Act” would be passed at the “right time”.
Adityanath’s remarks came two months after a draft bill was posted on the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission’s website, inviting the public to suggest provisions such as prohibiting people with over two children from running in local elections and denying them government grants.
In 2020, Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan, the Lok Sabha MP from Muzaffarnagar, visited Adityanath and asked him to introduce a population control law.
In June, Union Minister for Agribusiness Prahlad Singh Patel said the Modi government was considering introducing a population control law.
“It is part of the commission’s mandate to talk about measures for the well-being of the community. Population control legislation is therefore urgently needed,” Ashfaq said.
Danish UP Minister of State for Minorities Azad Ansari said population control was a desired decision.
“I think if the commission takes the initiative in such a step, it should be welcomed,” Ansari said. Muslims are the largest religious minority group in Uttar Pradesh. The UP Population Control Policy 2021-2030 aims to lower the crude female fertility rate to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.9 by 2030.
According to a Delhi-based CSDS study, Muslim women (2.61) had a higher fertility rate than Hindu women (2.13) and yet, according to a National Family Health Survey, the rate of Population growth among Muslims has been declining since 1971.
“Population control is in everyone’s interest. Is not it? Even Uttarakhand, which was split from the UP, has a policy of inciting population control. Why shouldn’t Uttar Pradesh have it? Why should political motives be attributed to such a move,” a UP minister asked, refuting the theory that the population control movement was targeting a particular community.
In July 2021, the government had made it clear that a population control policy would also lead to a reduction in maternal and child deaths in a gradual and time-limited way.