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Unrest over voter list intensifies

- Cong under pressure to sort out issue

Shillong, April 30: Pressure is mounting on the Congress-led Meghalaya government to sort out the voter registration guidelines, after the UDP, NCP and KHNAM voiced their concerns on the matter.

While the UDP and the Opposition NCP want the Mukul Sangma government to immediately convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue, the KHNAM has demanded setting 1971 as the cut-off year to determine permanent resident rights for the state’s non-indigenous citizens. They have also asked the government to detect foreigners and execute the inner-line permit to check their influx.

Agitating social organisations like the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) and the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) have joined hands to call for the immediate suspension of the ongoing registration of voters and expressed displeasure at the flexible guidelines issued by the Election Commission in relation to the enrolment of voters..

The organisations had alleged that the flexible guidelines were facilitating the entry of foreigners into the electoral rolls, which is a danger to the microscopic indigenous society.

The groups also started a three-day night road blockade from 7pm to 5am from today.

“The issue of bogus and doubtful voters is real and needs to be addressed, without impinging on the rights of genuine non-tribal voters,” UDP working president Paul Lyngdoh said in a statement last evening. He also urged the government to convene an all-party meeting.

Today, the Opposition NCP supported the UDP’s stand and asked the state government to call political parties and social organisations to have a threadbare discussion on the issue.

“We fully support the UDP and the government must also take more initiative on the matter even as talks with the organisations had failed last week. The issue should also be taken up in New Delhi,” Opposition leader Conrad K. Sangma said.

The KHNAM, on the other hand, extended “moral support” to the social organisations and demanded using 1971 as the cut-off year to detect foreigners and put in place the inner-line permit system.

“The state cannot just blindly follow the directives issued from New Delhi as it has to think about the interest of the indigenous community,” KHNAM president Pyndap Saibon said. Disagreeing with the demand for an all-party meet on the issue, Saibon said: “The chief minister himself should take the initiative and talk to the Election Commission and demand for the immediate suspension of the ongoing enrolment of voters.”

On the cut-off year, which has been a demand for decades now, the KHNAM leader said his party was “not rigid” on the issue. “We can negotiate the year which can be the cut-off year,” he added.

Saibon also appealed to the genuine non-indigenous citizens to help in the identification of “foreigners” to safeguard the interest of the state.

He said: “With unabated influx, our state can also become a den of Maoists and Muslim fundamentalists which would pose as a grave danger.”


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