| A charred tourist taxi at Lumshyiap on Thursday night after it was torched during the road blockade. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Sept. 6: After talks between pressure groups, political parties and the Meghalaya government, on how influx and illegal immigration into the state should be tackled have reached a blind alley, the question that is floating now is who would bat an eyelid first to end the ongoing impasse.
While more than a dozen pressure groups like the Khasi Students’ Union, Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People, Hynniewtrep National Youth Front, Garo Students’ Union, Jaintia Students’ Union and influential political parties like the United Democratic Party and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party have vehemently pressed for the introduction of the inner-line permit (ILP), chief minister Mukul Sangma has refused to bow down. Instead, he offered these groups alternative ideas to achieve the objective of safeguarding the interests of the indigenous communities in the state.
The ILP regulates the visits of Indians to states where the ILP regime is prevalent, under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
Under terms of 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 to visit these three states.
The main aim of the ILP system is to prevent the settlement of other Indian nationals in the states where ILP regime is prevalent, in order to protect the indigenous/tribal population.
But Sangma has already rejected the “outdated law” (read ILP), which was implemented to suit “colonial interests”.
“The government is coming up with new ideas (to deal with influx and illegal immigration) and there is no bankruptcy of ideas. We do not have to fall back on an outdated and colonial act,” the chief minister said yesterday after an all-party meeting.
However, the various groups want the ILP to be modelled in a manner in which it would suit local interests and which would also safeguard genuine non-indigenous people of the state from undue harassment.
The chief minister has promised to bring in an effective tenancy law, which would regulate the renting of houses across the state. He felt that this law, along with other mechanisms, would go a long way in curbing influx and illegal immigration.
On the other hand, the groups want the ILP regime so that those who come into Meghalaya could be watched right from the entrance.
The groups feel that the proposed tenancy bill and other mechanisms as promised by the chief minister would only deal with those who have already entered the state.
As the pressure groups could not agree with the chief minister and vice-versa, on Monday, Meghalaya witnessed a 12-hour shutdown, which was followed by a three-day road blockade at night.
Incidents of arson were also reported from various parts of the Khasi hills region. Police have managed to apprehend some of those who were behind such acts.
The first round of the battle of wits had already concluded, following two separate meetings Sangma had with the pressure groups and political parties. The pro-ILP contingent has already made it clear that it would be ILP and nothing else. Sangma has also made it clear that it would be something else.
The stalemate has only stiffened although the deadlock needs to be broken. The question now is who would blink first and ensure that two opposite sides will cross barriers to realise a common objective.