Shillong, Nov. 30: Thousands of people turned out at Students’ Field, Jaiaw here today to extend support to pressure groups in their agitation for implementation of inner-line permit (ILP) in Meghalaya.
The mammoth rally was held amid heavy deployment of security forces in various parts of the city, including Motphran, a commercial hub, nearly 1km from the venue.
Slogans like “No ILP, no rest” and “We demand ILP” resonated at the ground as leaders of 13 pressure groups, including the Garo Students’ Union (GSU) and other organisations from Garo hills, reiterated the need for the permit to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people. The crowd shouting slogans against the government and a section set fire to the effigy of chief minister Mukul Sangma.
Meghalaya’s oldest legislator Hoping Stone Lyngdoh of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party, also attended the rally.
The writing on the wall was that the government’s proposed bill to regulate landlords and verify tenants, as a mechanism to check illegal immigration, would not be accepted.
Addressing the congregation, Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) president Daniel Khyriem said the answer to those who had “doubted” people’s support to the demand for implementation of the ILP was the gathering itself. When he asked the crowd if the agitation should be suspended and the demand for ILP dropped, a resounding “no” rose from the crowd.
“I think even the deaf would hear the voices emanating from here, and our powerful voice will surely vibrate the pillars of the secretariat till we get our demand,” the KSU chief said.
He said the fight for ILP in Meghalaya had also awakened Assam, which has faced the brunt of illegal immigration.
Voices for implementation of ILP are being been raised in the neighbouring state now.
He said the stand taken by the groups was “clear and transparent” that the ILP should be implemented to protect the indigenous people and that the demand was not illegal. He sought continued support and inspiration from the people until the demand is met.
Hyn˝iewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) general secretary Sadon K. Blah said the indigenous people of the state were facing a “silent war and invasion” and if “we don’t wake up now”, a time will come when even the political rights of the local populace would be snatched.
He alleged that the government’s reluctance to implement the permit regime rose from the fear of corrosion of “vote bank”.
“The more we talk about development, be it setting up of industries or educational institutions, the more we need ILP to protect the indigenous people,” he said.
He slammed the government for claiming that the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 (which paved the way for ILP) had been repealed in Garo hills.
He said no authentic document to prove the claim had been put up in the public domain.
Announcing that the agitation would henceforth be intensified, he said a number of notices had been served to the leaders of the pressure groups but the government need not arrest them, as they themselves would surrender after the ILP was implemented.
“We did not seek stars from the government, but a law which can be implemented to suit human beings,” he said.The president of Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Joe Marwein, said Meghalaya had registered the highest decadal growth (27.82 per cent) among all the states in the Northeast between 2001 and 2011 whereas the national decadal growth was only 17.64 per cent.
Garo Students’ Union (GSU) president Tengsak G. Momin said the ILP movement was not of pressure groups but of the people. “We do not need a mouse like the tenancy bill, but the ILP, which is like a lion,” Momin said.
The rally, which started with a prayer, ended on a peaceful note.