Minister triggers row, says Hindu population falling in India
New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Monday triggered a row saying the Hindu population in India was shrinking while minorities were flourishing, inviting flak from the opposition.
"Hindu population is reducing in India because Hindus never convert people. Minorities in India are flourishing unlike some countries around," Rijiju tweeted, apparently referring to Pakistan where minorities, including Hindus, often allege that they were facing persecution.
Rijiju embedded a news report where the Congress had alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government was trying to "convert Arunachal Pradesh into a Hindu-majority state".
The minister also criticized the Congress for "such provocative statements".
"India is a secular country. All religious groups enjoy freedom and live peacefully," he later told the media in Delhi.
"Why is the Congress making such irresponsible statements? People of Arunachal Pradesh are unitedly living peacefully with each other," the BJP MP from north eastern state said.
The Congress reacted sharply to the minister's comment. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was "an irresponsible statement" by Rijiju that was not limited to just Arunachal Pradesh.
"When a union minister makes such an irresponsible, he must be held to account," Tewari told reporters here.
He said the minister's remarks were contradictory to the 2011 population census in India -- a country that has over 97 crore Hindus who make up 79.8 per cent of its population. As per the census, there are some 17 crore million Muslims, making up nearly 14.25 per cent of India's 130 crore India. Among the other minorities, Christians make up 2.3 per cent and Sikhs 2.16 per cent.
Reading out the Census data, the Congress spokesperson said that population growth rate of various religions had come down in the decade of 2001-2011.
Growth rate of Hindus has come down to 16.76 per cent from 19.92 in the previous decade, he said, adding Muslims also witnessed a sharp fall in growth rate from 29.52 per cent in the decade of 1991-2001 to 24.60 per cent in 2001-2011.
"Does the minister of state for home have any other empirical data beyond 2011 census for making such an irresponsible statement," the Congress leader asked.
"This is not conduct which is becoming of a minister."
President of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi also criticised Rijiju.
"MOS Home should remember he is a Minister of India for all Indians not for Hindus only, remember your oath as minister," Owaisi said in a tweet.
"What have the minorities in India got to do with minorities of other countries. It is the Constitution which guarantees rights."