Meghalaya intensifies ILP demand

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The demand for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the Northeastern Hilly state of Meghalaya has been recently intensified again. In December 2019, the Meghalaya Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution seeking the ILP’s implementation in the state. However, the Central Government is yet to give its nod to the implementation of the ILP in the state. At present Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur are four Northeastern states where ILP is implemented. Among these states, Manipur is the latest state where ILP has been implemented. Civil Society Organizations of the state have been demanding the implementation of ILP in Manipur for a long time. ILP regime was extended to Manipur on 11 December 2019 with President Ram Nath Kovind signing the order in this effect. The decision comes two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced in Lok Sabha that the ILP would be extended to the northeastern state. The extension of ILP in Manipur is somehow fulfilling the demand in Meghalaya too. Northeast Today writes

The Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (CoMSO), a known pressure group of the state has asked all 60 legislators from the state, including Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, to go to New Delhi and hold an agitation in favour of the ILP. It asked the three MPs of the state to raise the issue in the upcoming session of Parliament. The CoMSO, headed by the Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC), is a conglomerate of 16 civil society organisations from the Khasi, Jaintia and the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, demanding the implementation of the ILP and the scrapping of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The HYC has been strongly demanding for implementation of ILP in Meghalaya since the Congress-led government rejected the demand in 2013 and instead passed the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) in 2016. The MRSSA is considered to be part of a “comprehensive mechanism” to check illegal immigration – with its focal point on tenants.

In December (CoMSO) staged a public gathering in Shillong to mark one year of the  Meghalaya Legislative Assembly passing the Inner Line Permit (ILP) Resolution. CoMSO termed the actions of the Central government as a ‘mockery’.

Robertjune Kharjahrin, Chairman of CoMSO, while addressing the media said that he was hopeful that the loud drum beats will echo till Delhi. We appeal to the union government to honour the aspirations of the people of Meghalaya and implement ILP in the state. The indigenous people of Meghalaya have fought for too long. Once again, we urge the Meghalaya government to lead a delegation comprising of the 60 MLAs to go to Delhi and demand for ILP,” he added further.

During his visit to Shillong in December, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju was greeted with a protest staged by the Khasi Students’ Union demanding ILP and repeal of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Later while talking to journalists, Rijiju had cautioned against any untoward incident over the demand. He said it would tarnish the Northeast’s image. But the CoMSO said: “The Centre must manifest its political will by bringing Meghalaya under the ILP’s ambit.”

The ILP is an official document issued to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. Many in the Northeast view it as a shield against the illegal influx of immigrants. Currently, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are protected under it.

Inner Line Permit (ILP) is issued by the concerned state government of states having ILP to allow Indian citizen of other states as for inward travel into a protected area under ILP for a limited period. It is mandatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain a permit for entering into the protected state. The ILP document is an effort by the government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.

An ILP was previously required for certain parts of the Leh district in Ladakh. This requirement was abolished by a circular issued by the district magistrate that took effect from 1 May 2014, although foreign nationals are required to get Protected Area Permit for this region. But the ILP was implemented again in Leh in 2017.

 

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