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Groups press for inner-line permit

Shillong, Sept. 3: Pressure groups want Meghalaya to emulate Manipur by passing a resolution in the Assembly to implement the inner-line permit (ILP) system to check unabated influx.

Today, 10 pressure groups staged a six-hour sit-in near the additional secretariat building here to demand the implementation of the ILP.

The groups include the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi-Jaintia & Garo People (FKJGP), Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU), Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF), All Jaintia Youth Welfare Organisation (AJYWO), Synjuk Seng Samla Shnong (SSSS), Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF), Ri Bhoi Youth Federation (RBYF), Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) and the Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association (KWWADA).

Leaders of the groups said political parties should arrive at a consensus on the floor of the Assembly to introduce the ILP system to curb unabated influx of illegal immigrants into the hill state.

However, just a few days ago, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma downplayed the ILP’s effectiveness and stated that the government would come up with a “stronger mechanism” to check influx.

The ILP is issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 by the state governments.

“We urge all legislators, cutting across party lines, to press the government to implement the ILP during the three-day Assembly session commencing from Wednesday in the interest of the indigenous community,” KSU president Daniel Khyriem said.

He also said, “The illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are not only infiltrating the international border, but most of them have come from neighbouring Assam, bypassing the checkgates,” he added.

The KSU leader also renewed the demand to exempt Meghalaya from the Indo-Nepal friendship treaty, which, according to him, has aided immigrants.

Criticising the state government, Khyriem said the administration has failed to implement the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act because of non-appointment of labour inspectors in all the 39 blocks of the state to check migrant labourers.

FKJGP working president Joe Marwein said the groups had met Opposition leader Conrad K. Sangma and ruling United Democratic Party legislators Paul Lyngdoh and Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, seeking their help to ask the government to adopt a resolution to implement the ILP.

“If the Manipur government can pass a resolution in the Assembly for the implementation of the inner-line permit to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people, why can’t the Meghalaya government do the same?” Marwein asked.

While dispelling notions that the ILP system would affect the inflow of tourists, he said the government should first protect the indigenous community of the state.

“The Kokrajhar incident is an eye-opener for us, and the ILP will not affect tourism as tourists would always return unlike the illegal immigrants,” Marwein said.

The groups also resolved to keep an eye on the Assembly session and the debates that would probably arise on the ILP.