Shillong, Sept. 27: The Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government is planning to introduce a new bill to check influx in the state.
The government expects to bring an end to the inner-line permit (ILP) saga by introducing the Meghalaya Regulation of Landlords and Tenants Verification bill.
Certain modifications, though, will be brought to the preliminary draft bill before it is put up in the public domain from October 3 to solicit views from citizens. Suggestions will be welcomed for up to a month after which a special session of the Assembly will be called to approve the bill.
However, the legislative measure will be “exhaustive”, chief minister Mukul Sangma said today after a cabinet meeting here, as the proposed bill would encompass even industrial units and coal mining areas, where a good number of migrants are hired as labourers.
Though the nomenclature of the bill may undergo an alteration, Sangma said the proposed law would enforce the mandate to regulate landowners and verify their tenants. He also underscored the need to have a strong enforcement mechanism of the planned legislation. At the same time, local traditional institutions will play a role along with enforcing authorities according to the mandate of the proposed law.
“There are only two instruments by which people can come and stay in the state — by purchasing land and by staying as tenants. The proposed act will check the problem of people staying in Meghalaya when they cannot buy their own land,” the chief minister said.
With this, the Sangma government plans to push the British-era ILP law into the history books.
On the issue of agitating pressure groups demanding the ILP, Sangma remained evasive on whether the government will invite them for a fresh round of talks.
However, he added, “Tell me one thing, if you reach out, will these agitations not happen after a few months or one year or two years? Will Meghalaya then be free from these unpleasant situations in the future? This is something which we are looking at, since in the past agitations have continued even after talks. Everybody has to behave normally, responsibly.”
On whether the ongoing imbroglio was a political conspiracy against him, Sangma chose to train his guns at the Opposition parties. “If you are looking at the rhetoric from various directions, particularly from the Opposition, I have reasons to believe they (Opposition) are adding fuel to the fire. I have reasons to believe they must be in close contact with these agitating pressure groups,” he said.
“We are politicians, we know who operates how. Therefore, I think the people of the state are intelligent enough to draw an inference. I am also an alert citizen besides being a politician. I think we are capable of drawing inferences,” he added.
Hitting out at UDP legislator Paul Lyngdoh, Sangma said although the MLA had been in the government since 2003 and till the 2013 elections, he had not aggressively talked about the issue of influx or ILP. “When they are out of the government, they suddenly say that ILP is the only answer. Let us be responsible. Let us look at what we have contributed to address this issue when we were in power,” he said.
Stating that only his government has been doing something to tackle influx and illegal immigration, he said, “We are doing something to address this issue. It is seen, it is visible and we are still doing it. Therefore, I think it gives people a lot of room to be optimistic including the pressure groups. They must understand. This is the government. They must stand by this government.”
According to Sangma, the pressure groups are not really interested in solving the issue of influx and illegal immigration. “If you read in between the lines, I don’t think they want to address the issue of influx and their behaviour is reflected in this manner. I have reasons to believe they know what the government is doing is the right thing and it will be capable to address the issue. I am sure they know. They are intelligent enough,” he said.