| Graffiti with a pro-ILP slogan in Shillong. File picture |
Shillong, April 28: The much-awaited dialogue between the Meghalaya political leadership and the pro-Inner-Line Permit (ILP) groups will take place tomorrow, three months after the two sides had met for the first time to discuss the contentious issues of influx and illegal immigration following a series of agitation.
Chief minister Mukul Sangma and his team will meet representatives from the 13 pressure groups at the main secretariat at 11am.
The last time the groups and the government met was on January 15, following months of agitation. From September until December last year, the state witnessed a spate of violence following a standoff between the government and the pressure groups on the ILP.
The pro-ILP groups include the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi, Jaiñtia and Garo People (FKJGP), Hynñiewtrep National Awakening Movement (HNYF), All Jaiñtia Youth Welfare Organisation (AJYWO), Ri Bhoi Youth Federation (RBYF), Garo Students’ Union (GSU), Association for Democracy and Empowerment (ADE), A’chik Youth Welfare Organisation (AYWO), Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association (KWWADA) and others.
KSU president Daniel Khyriem said the groups would make public the document they had prepared on the twin issues of influx and illegal immigration. It will be submitted to the government at the meeting.
“We are going to the meeting with a positive mindset, and we hope that whatever will come out from the dialogue will be for the benefit of the people,” Khyriem said.
The groups have been asking from the government to come up with a mechanism to check influx and since 2012, they have stressed on the ILP as a system to regulate those who come from outside the state.
However, the Mukul Sangma government had repeatedly shown its disinclination towards implementing the ILP regime under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
In 2011, after the census data was released, the pressure groups reinforced their demand for a strong mechanism to tackle “outsiders”.
According to the data, Meghalaya had registered the highest growth (27.82 per cent) among all states in the Northeast between 2001 and 2011. The national growth during this period was only 17.64 per cent.
The blame was pinned on influx and illegal immigration. However, on August 29, 2013, when the chief minister met the pressure groups, the government had stated that while the Scheduled Tribe population, according to the 2011 census, was 86.15 per cent, the percentage of non-indigenous population was 13 per cent.
Meghalaya witnessed a spate of protests last year, ranging from shutdowns to road blockades, with “No ILP, No Rest” becoming the popular slogan.
Two persons also died during the agitation and several people were arrested.
The Meghalaya government had last year filed the damages suit in the special court of Rithelda Rymbai, seeking compensation of over Rs 31.09 crore from the groups for the damages and loss of private property, both individual and community-owned, and government property caused during the ILP agitation.
The government termed general strikes, road blockades and office picketing as “unconstitutional and illegal.”