Shillong, Oct. 20: Pro-inner-line permit (ILP) pressure groups have now turned their attention towards President Pranab Mukherjee, who will be in Meghalaya on a two-day visit, beginning tomorrow, to speak to the state government as well as the Centre on the need to implement the permit regime.
In an open letter to Mukherjee, the pressure groups stated that all “migrants” into Meghalaya enter via Assam after obtaining documents of identity proof from their respective panchayats.
“After obtaining any documents of proof that they are Indian citizens they freely enter Meghalaya whereas there is no authority in Meghalaya to verify that such panchayats are legal and real,” the letter stated.
The groups further pointed out that Assam has not given its nod to the compulsory registration of voters by making it mandatory for all to obtain the Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC) for the fact that there are “many illegal migrants who are illegally staying in Assam”.
“But it is ironic that the Meghalaya government is entertaining any document of proof of citizenship issued by the Assam panchayats or other documents obtained from Assam authorities to enable the migrants and floating population to get enrolled in the voter list,” the groups added.
They felt that there was “an evil design of vested interest groups, including politicians and political parties” to ensure their “vote banks” by creating a conducive atmosphere for the migrants of doubtful identity to get themselves enrolled in the voter list of Meghalaya.
To know the realities of influx from across the border, the groups exhorted Mukherjee to refer to the report sent by then Assam governor S.K. Sinha to the then President K.R. Narayanan in 1998.
In the report, they said, it was clearly stated, “Illegal migration from Bangladesh over several decades has been altering the demographic complexion of this state. It poses a grave threat both to the identity of the Assamese people and to our national security. Successive governments at the Centre and in the state have not adequately met this challenge.”
“It is here that we find the connection between the Assam scenario and Meghalaya because the latter shares a long border with Assam,” the groups said.
While Meghalaya has a 443km-long international border with Bangladesh, the stretch of the inter-state border with Assam is more than 600km. Moreover, they pointed out that “illegal migrants” have dared to name a locality in the heart of the state capital as Bangladesh Colony.
“If the issue of influx and migration into our state is not dealt with in the right earnest, we as a nation might succumb to the grand design of the pan-Islamic movement not of the Indian Muslims, but of the elements from across the border with their launching pad from the Northeast,” the groups said.
They said if the President travelled to some parts of the state, including some localities within the state capital, he would be convinced that the ILP was required for Meghalaya.
At the same time, they urged Mukherjee to take up the issue of exempting Meghalaya from the purview of the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Friendship, 1950, as a means to stem influx and migration into the state.
“Based on these arguments that there is a threat to the demographic structure and polity of our state, and our economic lives, we have been demanding from the state government to invoke the ILP. The ILP is still in vogue in the state as per Sections 2 and 4 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. The present government can legislate as per the requirements of contemporary times,” the groups said.