Shillong, Aug. 28: All eyes will turn towards the state secretariat tomorrow afternoon when chief minister Mukul Manda Sangma and pressure groups representatives will sit across the table to discuss on the Inner-Line Permit (ILP).
The pressure groups comprise the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU), Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF), All Jaintia Youth Welfare Organisation (AJYWO), Ri Bhoi Youth Federation (RBYF), Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF), Garo Students’ Union (GSU), Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), Synjuk Seng Samla Shnong (SSSS), Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association (KWWADA), and Association for Democracy and Empowerment (ADE).
These groups have made it clear that they want nothing less than the ILP, as they believe that it is the best mechanism to protect indigenous citizens from influx.
The ILP regulates visits of Indians to states where the ILP regime is prevalent under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
Under Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, the system is prevalent in the three northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Citizens of other states require a permit for visiting these three states.
The main aim of the ILP system is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the states where the ILP regime is prevalent in order to protect the indigenous/tribal population.
“We want this government to implement the recommendations of the high-level committee on influx which had suggested that the ILP should be put into practice in the state to protect the indigenous people,” KSU president Daniel Khyriem told The Telegraph on the eve of the crucial talks.
The committee was formed in September last year, and was headed by then deputy chief \minister Bindo M. Lanong, and had held at least four rounds of talks before unanimously settling on the idea of ILP to fight against influx.
Khyriem also said that apart from the ILP, the groups will not be talking about other mechanisms which the government may offer at tomorrow’s discourse.
“We are going with a one-point agenda because we feel that we can no longer talk except on the ILP,” he added.
At the same time, he said the groups would wait for the outcome of tomorrow’s discourse before they decide on the next course of action.
Earlier, the groups had threatened that if the government disagrees to implement the ILP, they would resort to a series of agitation.
Recently, the state government had said that implementation of the ILP requires “close and dispassionate examination” so that genuine Indian citizens in the state are not unnecessarily harassed. It also claimed that the Inner-Line Regulation would require the Centre’s approval.
Moreover, it pointed out that the ILP applies to Indian citizens only and, therefore, an application for grant of ILP cannot be rejected. If foreign nationals are to be restricted, the Foreigners Act, 1946 read with the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958 will have to be amended and this can be taken up only by Parliament, it added.
However, the groups have challenged the state government’s contention that Centre’s nod was required to implement the ILP.
According to them, the system can also be invoked in Meghalaya by means of a notification in the official gazette by the state government. Therefore, they contended that the state government has no excuse for not invoking the ILP to fulfil its mandate to govern the area in a manner to protect the interest of its population.