|Activists stage a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday. Picture by Ramakant Kuswaha
Imphal, Nov. 25: The joint committee on inner line permit system in Manipur took its demand right to the central government’s doorstep today by organising a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Women vendors of Imphal also staged a simultaneous sit-in here. Both demonstrations were held between 10am and 3pm.
The committee decided to shift the battle to New Delhi after the Centre stayed silent on a resolution adopted by the Manipur Assembly on July 13 to enforce the inner line permit in the state and the subsequent remark by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Sindhe: “Any sensible person will not pass such a bill.”
The joint committee, a conglomerate of citizens’ groups, had planned to issue stay permits to non-Manipuris living in the state from December 19 next but dropped the idea after deputy chief minister Gaikhangam persuaded them not to do so.
Gaikhangam appealed to the joint committee leaders to join hands with the state government and mount pressure on the Centre as the matter was not under the purview of the state government.
Somorendro Thokchom, media coordinator of the joint committee, said volunteers of various student and citizens’ groups of Manipur, Delhi Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organisation and Manipuri students staying in Delhi took part in the Jantar Mantar demonstration, which also saw participation by Manipur State Congress Party MLA K. Thamarjit and Manipur People’s Party organisation secretary Mutum Maniton along with Imphal businessman Amrik Singh Pahwa, who represented the state’s Sikh populace.
A delegation of the joint committee, headed by its convener, Sapamcha Jadumani, had met the Union home minister on Friday and submitted a representation stressing the necessity of enforcing the system to safeguard and protect the indigenous people of Manipur.
The delegation told Shinde that according to the 2001 census, there were 7,04,488 non-Manipuris in Manipur against a tribal population of 6,70,782, Meitei population of 7,51,822 and Meitei Pangal (Muslims) population of 1,67,204.
Jadumani said Shinde was convinced that the demand of the people of Manipur was genuine but added that as the home minister had not give any written assurance regarding implementation of the system, the joint committee would continue to press for its enforcement.
The campaign for enforcement of the inner line permit system in Manipur started after it came to light that the number of non-Manipuri voters were increasing in almost all constituencies of the state.
Out of 28,000 voters in Jiribam constituency of Imphal East non-Manipuris account for 20,000.
Citizen’s organisations in the state are apprehensive that Manipur could meet the fate of Tripura, where outsiders outnumbered the indigenous people.
Manipur Peoples Party is also campaigning for implementation of the system in Manipur through a poster campaign.
The CPI, which was a partner in the earlier two terms of the Okram Ibobi Singh government, is also fully supporting the demand.
“If the Ibobi Singh government is supportive and can put enough pressure on the Centre, there is no reason why the UPA government should not implement the system in Manipur,” CPI state secretary M. Nara Singh said.
“What is the Ibobi Singh government doing? His cabinet took the decision and the next day the state Assembly took the decision to enforce it. It is the responsibility of the government to pursue the decision and have the Centre honour the decision taken by the state Assembly. We will continue to fight until the Centre acts,” said Manitombi Devi, a women vendor here.