|Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma addresses the news conference on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos
Shillong, Nov. 28: Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, who rejected the demand of various pressure groups to implement the inner-line permit (ILP) in the state, today said the cry for introducing the permit regime in Assam could be because of the larger ramifications of illegal immigration in the neighbouring state.
Against the backdrop of the popular demand for ILP to check influx, Sangma said he would write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the need to incorporate special clauses into the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, specifying the criteria on the right to franchise so that concerns of the people could be addressed.
“You have to critically analyse why this demand is coming up in Assam. Why Assam feels that it should be a state under ILP,” Sangma told reporters at a news conference here. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has demanded the introduction of ILP in Assam to regulate and check the inflow of outsiders to the state. The identity of indigenous communities is already at stake as people keep migrating legally and illegally into the state from other parts of the country, including from Bangladesh.
The ILP, to restrict entry of outsiders into the state is in place in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Under the system, any Indian citizen who is not a resident of these states needs a permit to enter the state where the ILP is implemented.
Sangma said it might be that the AASU had gone into the principal act of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 where the law was applicable in many districts of Assam like Kamrup, Nagaon, Lakhimpur and Cachar, among others.
“Since those parts of Assam were falling under the purview of the same regulation, they are thinking why only other states in the region are demanding because Assam has a bigger problem of illegal immigration,” Sangma asserted.
The Meghalaya chief minister, however, said the concern about illegal immigration here was born out of the fact that the neighbouring state (Assam) has a large number of illegal immigrants. “That is the contention of the pressure groups here. Every pressure group when they expressed their concern referred to the problem in our neighbouring state,” Sangma pointed out.
“If ILP is implemented in Assam and Meghalaya, then what will happen to all of us as everybody will have to take permission from every state even to cross the inter-state border,” he said. “How will they implement when Assam has such a long border with Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya?” he asked. Assam shares an over 600km border with Meghalaya.
“It (ILP) cannot be implemented,” he claimed.
According to Sangma, he will also prevail upon his counterparts in the region regarding this proposal to the Prime Minister. “If the proposal is accepted, I am sure to very a large extent many problems of people of our state and of the Northeast will be addressed,” Sangma said.