India's Muslim population grows 24%, slower than previous decade

Published: January 22, 2015
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Lucknow’s 1784 Bara Imambara, pictures in 2002. PHOTO: REUTERS

Lucknow’s 1784 Bara Imambara, pictures in 2002. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DEHLI: The latest census data on the population of religious groups in India shows a 24% rise in the Muslim population between 2001 and 2011, with the community’s share of total population rising from 13.4% to 14.2% over the 10-year period, The Times of India reported on Thursday.

While the growth rate of the Muslim population has slowed from around 29% between 1991 and 2001, it is still higher than the national average of 18% for the decade.

Data accessed by the Indian newspaper showed that the most rapid rise in the share of Muslims in the total population was witnessed in Assam. Muslims constituted 30.9% of the state’s population in 2001, but accounted for a 34.2% share a decade later. The state has had a persisting problem of the illegal influx of Bangladeshi immigrants.

West Bengal, another state where illegal immigration from Bangladesh has been an old phenomenon, also registered a rise in the share of Muslims in total population from 25.2% in 2001 to 27% in 2011 — a growth of 1.9% points over the 10 years, more than double the national average.

Uttarakhand, significantly, has also reported a sharp rise in the share of Muslim population from 11.9% to 13.9% — a growth of two percentage points against the countrywide growth of 0.8 percentage points between 2001 and 2011.

Other states with a significant rise in the share of Muslims in the total population as per the 2011 census were Kerala (from 24.7% to 26.6%), Goa (6.8% to 8.4%), Jammu & Kashmir (67% to 68.3%), Haryana (5.8% to 7%) and Delhi (11.7% to 12.9%).

The census office compiled this data by March last year, but the UPA government held back the release, perhaps fearing political repercussions of the findings on the eve of Lok Sabha elections. Union home minister Rajnath Singh last week gave his go-ahead when Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner C Chandramouli asked whether the “sensitive’ figures should be released.

Singh on Wednesday confirmed that the data would be made public soon.

Interestingly, Manipur was the only state to show a fall in Muslim population as a percentage of its total population (a fall of 0.4 percentage points).

The high growth of Muslim population in Assam has been intensely debated and has been a source of political confrontation. In fact, a report prepared on the issue in 1998 by the then governor of Assam, Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sinha, had warned that illegal immigration was slowly changing the demographic profile in several districts. The Supreme Court has on more than one occasion expressed concern over the change in demography and chided the government for not stopping infiltration from Bangladesh.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • rationalist
    Jan 22, 2015 - 5:34PM

    Kudos to India where minority community population is increasing…!! so instead of thinking and worrying about the Muslim population in India we should concentrate on Pakistani development…!!

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  • Stranger
    Jan 22, 2015 - 5:38PM

    Now now .. bef the trolls this side and that start flooding with their narrow minded logic about killings and annihilations , let me say they are opting themselves for smaller families – which means better edu and facitlites. Well done my muslim brethen .

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  • Pity
    Jan 22, 2015 - 5:51PM

    This report should be read by Sakshi Maharaj.

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  • JSM
    Jan 22, 2015 - 6:22PM

    Can we have similar data from Pakistan?

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  • Hella
    Jan 22, 2015 - 6:45PM

    @pity, before that it should be read by Pakistani Muslims. Sakshi Maharaj will probably use the report to fan fear amongst his followers.

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  • Stranger
    Jan 22, 2015 - 7:26PM

    @rationalist:
    Err dear u didnt get the point . Its not about M population increasing ( it will always increase ) , this is about the growth of rate . Indian Ms are growing at a lesser rate .The article is about that .Simply put it means less num of children in M houses than before.

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  • Jyoti
    Jan 22, 2015 - 7:33PM

    Although growth rate among muslims is still higher than the national average but their Growth rate has fallen sharply from 29% in 2001 to 24% in 2011. This a a very positive sign. This should be enough to crush all manufactured propaganda against rising muslim population by rightwing hindus. They never highlight the falling growth rate among muslims. If we take care of illegal migration, muslim population will stablise when they reach 18-19% of population. This rising trend of falling growth rate among muslims is a proof that muslims will never cross 18-19% share in india’s population.

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  • Milind
    Jan 22, 2015 - 7:43PM

    @Stranger – “let me say they are opting themselves for smaller families – which means better edu and facitlites

    Good you’re saying this, cause we’ve been accused of being anti-Islamic when we’ve been saying this exact thing all these years. Plan smaller families rather than overbreed yourselves and then whine about discrimination or poverty…

    “Well done my muslim brethen . “

    When will our Hindu brethren do good in Pakistan?

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  • hamza khan
    Jan 22, 2015 - 11:44PM

    the population of muslims means nothing. we all know that minorities are treated very poorly in india. indian muslims are ghettoized and not allowed to buy properties in certain big cities (e.g. shabana azmi and javed akhtar). muslims are not given jobs in certain positions, there is huge difference in wealth amounts. no one is claiming things are perfect in pakistan, but they are better.

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  • hamza khan
    Jan 22, 2015 - 11:45PM

    @Milind:

    the treatment of hindus in pakistan is akin to the muslims in india. they are not treated any better or worse.

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  • LS
    Jan 22, 2015 - 11:59PM

    @hamza khan:
    So I assume Pakistan treats its minorities gloriously? There are no poor minorities? Everyone lives without the danger of them being killed, their daughters being kidnapped, raped, converted in that order or burnt alive for religious reasons? All this without any instigation or provocation? I assume minorities from other countries are flocking to Pakistan for better life?

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  • sam ganguly
    Jan 23, 2015 - 12:11AM

    manipur is traditionally hindu and it has very strong ties with nabaddip dham of nadia west bengal the birthplace of vaishnaba religion, and assam had always been a victim of illegal immigrants from bangladesh.

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  • Yo2Da2
    Jan 23, 2015 - 12:40AM

    @hamza khan: How do “we all know” about minorities’ treatment? Anecdotal evidence does not constitute the entire truth. True, there have been some horrific events. But without a proper context, they cannot be understood.

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  • sharabi
    Jan 24, 2015 - 10:42AM

    @hamza khan
    Either visit India yourself or keep shut your mouth.

    Regards;
    Proud Muslim from India

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  • Dia Khan
    Apr 13, 2015 - 5:49AM

    Oh my God what a terrible country where people are really concerned why the population of minority is growing fast. God help Muslims in India. The above comments are itself a good proof and depiction of deplorable conditions of Muslims in India. Now i completely understand why Pakistan was created.Recommend

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