Inner Line Permit issue: Meghalaya activists to go on strike

Normal life in Meghalaya will be paralysed on Monday as pro-Inner Line Permit (ILP) activists will go on a 12-hour general strike from 5 a.m. The talk between the Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and  representatives of the NGOs on Wednesday bogged down as both sides did not budge. This is the beginning of series of agitations demanding implementation of the ILP system in the state.

In Manipur too, the demand for the ILP is gaining momentum. On the other hand, unidentified armed persons attacked migrant workers; with a few being killed in the blasts. The synchronised agitations in Manipur and Meghalaya will cause concern among the high Union Home Ministry officials.

During the talks, Mr. Sangma had echoed the union government when he said that the ILP system cannot be introduced since the existing laws could check illegal migrants. He and Mr. Singh maintain that the genuine Indian citizens cannot be harassed in any manner since the constitution allows them to stay anywhere in the country.

In Manipur, some foreigners had been sentenced to prison terms after being arrested by the police. They are of the view that the ILP system cannot check illegal migrants.

In Arunachal Pradesh, where the ILP system is in force, the population of the indigenous people had fallen to 68 per cent in 2011 from 79.02 per cent in 1971. Likewise it had fallen in Nagaland from 88.61 per cent in 1971 to 86 per cent in 2011.

The activists insist that this regulatory provision should be enforced in Manipur and Meghalaya. Besides, they see no justification why the ILP system should be enforced in Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh only in the NE region having 8 states.

However, there is no mechanism in these 3 states to ensure that the visitors of all sorts leave the states after expiry of the permits which they can obtain by paying a nominal fee.

In Nagaland, even a coaster monger at the bus stand or railway station has to display a sign-board declaring that the business is owned by a Naga. But it is feared that many businesses continue in fake names and the outsiders have acquired immovable properties in the names of non-existent local men.

In Manipur, almost one third of the population are non-locals, according to the 2011 census. For unexplained reasons the Union Home Ministry is against the enforcement of the ILP in Manipur and Meghalaya. King Khagemba had brought 1000 Muslims from Assam as POWs in 1606. They had assimilated with the local populace. Today there are at least 5 Muslim MLAs in each election in the 60 constituencies.

In 1946, King Budhachandra had allowed the construction of 64 houses for the Nepalis. But today the population of the Nepalis in Manipur is said to be over 3,00,000. There are 28,000 voters in the Jiribam sub division in Imphal east district. Out of them the indigenous people constitute just 9000. There are 40 villages in the sub division and the locals are staying in 8 villages only.

Mr. Sangma and Mr. Singh find it increasingly difficult to convince the pro-ILP activists in their states.

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