Pro-ILP groups on warpath
A confederation of pressure groups on Saturday threatened to implement the inner-line permit (ILP) in Meghalaya from Wednesday on its own by checking the entry of outsiders into the state.
The ILP is a travel document issued by a state government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area. Citizens outside an ILP-protected state must get a permit before entering it.
The Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations, which has 17 pressure groups under its umbrella (eight in the Khasi hills and nine in the Garo hills), will set up checkgates at various locations and also aid the police’s anti-infiltration wing to keep an eye on people who enter the state. These groups include the Hynñiewtrep Youths’ Council, Jaiñtia Students’ Union, Garoland State Movement Committee, Hynñiewtrep A’chik National Movement and Garo Students’ Union (eastern zone).
The announcement was made by confederation chairman Robertjune Kharjahrin after a five-day sit-in at the State Central Library here that culminated on Saturday. The demonstration was held to protest against the delay by the Centre to extend the provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, from which the ILP is derived, to Meghalaya.
It has been nearly two months since the Assembly passed a unanimous resolution, requesting the Centre to implement the ILP. “By being passive, it seems the Centre will not listen to us. Look at the Bodo issue in Assam. The people there have received almost all they had demanded. We are only asking for the ILP but the Centre is delaying it,” he said.
Kharjahrin said it’s time to take steps to ensure that the Narendra Modi government agrees to implement the ILP in the state. “During the Hill State Movement, the slogan was: No Hill State, No Rest; No Hill State, Direct Action. This time it will be: No ILP, No Rest; No ILP, Direct Action. We will start implementing the ILP on our own,” he said.
He said from Wednesday, the confederation will send its volunteers to different locations to set up checkgates to keep an eye on all those who enter Meghalaya. In areas where the police’s anti-infiltration teams are in place, the volunteers will assist them.
Meghalaya shares a long inter-state boundary with Assam and a 444km boundary with Bangladesh with multiple entry and exit points.
“We will also go to places inhabited by outsiders, conduct checks and evict those who do not have valid work permits or labour licence,” Kharjahrin said.
The confederation appealed to traditional institutions to check the entry of outsiders by seeking valid documents.
It also asked the state government and all the 60 legislators to take “aggressive steps” to appeal to the Centre to approve the resolution for implementation of ILP. “If the legislators decide to launch a protest in New Delhi against the delay in implementing the ILP, we will be behind them. But they should not remain passive or mute spectators,” Kharjahrin said.
In a letter to chief minister Conrad K. Sangma, the confederation claimed to have “witnessed” a large number of illegal foreigners entering the state. “In many areas, a large number of illegal immigrants, without any documents to prove Indian citizenship and without a valid work permit issued by the labour department and labour licence from the respective autonomous district councils, had entered and stayed in the state. They are working in construction and mining and as daily labourers in shops, factories and other agencies,” it said.
It demanded that the government create pressure so that the governor gives assent to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security (Amendment) Ordinance approved by the state cabinet in 2019.
It also sought to strengthen the directorate of anti-infiltration by creating its own battalion and a separate cell of the anti-infiltration branch in every police station.
The confederation asked the government to implement the mandate of the district task force in all 11 districts and to give orders to labour inspectors to conduct regular checking of illegal immigrants. The task force was created in May 2006 to ensure regular checking of illegal immigrants and to detect and deport them.
“We have decided to send our volunteers to jointly implement the mandate of the directorate of anti-infiltration. We will also fix a routine and inform the district task force for joint checking of illegal immigrants. We will also assist labour inspectors in checking of work permits,” it said.