Shillong, Oct. 10: The Meghalaya Assembly today brushed aside a resolution to introduce the inner-line permit in the state.
After several hours of discussion on the penultimate day of the autumn session, the resolution, tabled by HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, was put to vote as the legislator refused to withdraw the resolution. Before the resolution was put to vote, chief minister Mukul Sangma said, “Let us not talk about the ILP anymore.”
However, Basaiawmoit retorted, saying, “Our strength does not depend on numbers here (Assembly), but we are here to present facts. We will go to the people and ensure that you will have to come back to reassemble this House to change the decision.”
As the legislator refused to withdraw the resolution, Speaker Abu Taher Mondal put the matter to vote, which was overwhelmingly defeated by voice vote.
Earlier, while moving the resolution, Basaiawmoit said the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, from which the ILP is drawn, has not been repealed from the Khasi and Jaintia Hills since it came into force on November 1, 1873.
“Yes, the Garo hills district of the erstwhile province of Assam was removed from the ILP ambit by a Repealing Act of 1897. However, it must be understood here that the resolution on the repeal by the then Province of Assam had not been produced. This fact has also been admitted by the state government at the high-level committee on influx,” the legislator said.
At the same time, he contended that the exclusion of Garo hills “should not be a hurdle for implementation of ILP” in Meghalaya as the Centre has the power to amend the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. He said if one goes by the logic of those who oppose the ILP, there should not have been any international flow of investment/capital, no international flow of labour and no international tourism in the ongoing visa regime across the globe.
“People are, however, not deterred from going to other countries either for business or for leisure simply because of the number of visa forms and other travel documents that they have to fill up while going from one country to another,” Basaiawmoit added.
He was also of the view that if the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation is extended to Meghalaya, the state will “prosper” as it will make the people turn back to their old way of life of being hard working and self-reliant.
According to the legislator, currently there is a sense of insecurity in the minds of local indigenous residents of the state.
“Although we got our hill state more than 40 years ago, we are right now on the verge of losing what we got due to adverse changes in the demographic profile/population structure of the state during the past four decades,” he said.
Political parties, he said, should, therefore, “stop looking at migrants as their vote banks”.
“They should stop thinking only about the next election; they should also think about the next generation. Those who fail to see this grim reality are self-deluded pseudo-intellectuals,” he said adding that it appeared that the government was “allergic” to the word ILP.
While condemning the violent incidents, which took place last month, he appealed to the government to open the doors of negotiation with the agitating pro-ILP groups.
In his reply, chief minister rejected the idea to implement ILP, but presented his government’s vision to put in place the Regulation of Landlords and Tenancy Verification law, besides implementing other existing laws.
“ILP was never implemented in Meghalaya but some people are hell bent in forcing the government to do what is not right. As responsible leaders, we should also educate the people that it cannot be implemented because the legislative mandate is not with us (state) but with the Centre,” Sangma said.
Slamming the Opposition, Sangma said, “Let us not be rhetorical on something which we cannot do. ILP is irrational, and people talk only of ILP as if we are bankrupt of ideas. There are also other ways.” “Let us not talk about ILP anymore, but talk of the actual measures so that the law we enact will take care of our concerns,” he added.
He also said it is an irony that when in 1995, the Meghalaya government was able to convince the Centre to lift the restricted areas permit (RAP) from the state, now the state government is being asked to approach the Centre to introduce the ILP. On the agitation by the pressure groups and the suggestion made by the Opposition that the government should not be “rigid but flexible”, Sangma said, “How can we discuss with people who come with a closed mind?”