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Pro-permit groups allay fear

- Apprehension of adverse reaction in other states

Shillong, Feb. 25: The pro-inner-line permit (ILP) pressure groups today differed with the Meghalaya government’s contention that if the permit regime is implemented, an adverse reaction could be triggered in places where people from this state are studying or working.

The government has enlisted 22 reasons as to why the ILP was not feasible for Meghalaya. While the pressure groups found some of those reasons “practicable”, they discounted government’s fear on investment, tourist flow and others.

A sizeable number of people from here have gone to other states in pursuit of higher studies, jobs and better career opportunities.

Restrictions imposed on Indian nationals in Meghalaya could trigger similar reactions and responses from other states which would bode ill for the people living in those states, the government had stated as one of the reasons why ILP was not feasible.

The general secretary of the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF), Sadon K. Blah, however, countered by saying that the reason cited by the government is only “speculative” in nature.

The comment comes in the backdrop of people from the Northeast having been assaulted and harassed in New Delhi recently.

Blah was speaking to reporters after some of the 13 pressure groups met to discuss on the 22 points which the government had submitted to them recently.

Another meeting has been scheduled for Monday where some new decisions on the ILP are likely to be announced.

Blah said tourist flow and capital investment would remain unaffected so long as people find that Meghalaya has the potential. “If investors feel that by investing in Meghalaya they could get sufficient profit, the ILP will not create any problem for them.”

However, the groups agreed with the government that it would be practically impossible to plug the entire length of the inter-state boundary. Meghalaya shares more than 884km of inter-state boundary with Assam.

Blah said a different mechanism should be worked out in order to thwart any infiltration attempt from Assam. He said from the 52 existing laws that were submitted to the groups by the government, at least 15 were directly or indirectly related to influx and illegal immigration.

“However, the laws are independent of each other. There is no synergy and coherence to deal with influx and illegal immigration. The question is how to integrate them in order to tackle the problem,” he said.

While the government stated that a huge cost would be involved in the implementation of the ILP, Blah said there is nothing wrong in spending for a good cause.

Blah said the argument that ILP is unfeasible as Meghalaya is a transit route for states like Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Assam’s Barak Valley is untenable.

The HNYF leader contended that this issue could be resolved.

Last year, the state was in turmoil following a standoff between the government and the pro-ILP groups on the permit regime.

The deadlock ended when the government invited the groups for talks on January 15.