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Meghalaya protesters demand ILP, NRC

Activists of HYC warn of action

By Banbitlang Marbaniang
  • Published 4.08.18
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HYC activists in front of the Meghalaya secretariat in Shillong on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

Shillong: Hundreds of Hynniewtrep Youths' Council (HYC) activists stormed the Meghalaya secretariat here on Friday in protest against the government's "adamant attitude" against implementation of the inner-line permit and to demand update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to weed out "foreigners" in the state.

The activists, carrying placards and shouting slogans, abruptly started a protest around 11am.

East Khasi Hills superintendent of police Davis N.R. Marak said the group had not been granted permission. "We have to see how these people entered the main secretariat. They did not come in a group. They came in twos and threes, like normal people, which made it difficult for the security personnel at the gates to detect them. They had hidden their placards and took them out only after reaching the secretariat," he said.

The situation was brought under control with the intervention of police who escorted the protesters out of the main secretariat, which has offices of ministers and bureaucrats, to a parking lot near the additional secretariat.

HYC general secretary Roy Kupar Synrem said the recent publication of the final draft of the NRC in Assam and the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, were "asteroids" heading towards the state. Questioning the fate of the 40 lakh people excluded from the final draft, if the Assam government drives them out, he expressed apprehension that some of them might enter Meghalaya through the 840km border the state shares with Assam.

He said the HYC had placed its demands before the new government in April. "After a 10-minute meeting with chief minister Conrad Sangma, we failed to reach a conclusion on our demands. In the past few weeks, we submitted reminders to the chief minister for another discussion, especially on laws related to illegal immigration."

Synrem also expressed concern over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which seeks to provide citizenship to certain illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India till December 31, 2014. "They enter our country at will and become citizens here," he said.

He urged the government to be serious in creating laws like the inner-line permit system and the NRC. "Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland have implemented the ILP and Assam has updated the NRC. What law does Meghalaya have to protect its citizens from outsiders?" Synrem asked.

He said the HYC was not in favour of setting up check gates to curb infiltration and that ILP was the only mechanism to protect the state from outsiders. "The ILP specifies the purpose of an outsider's entry into the state. We can understand what he is here for, how many days he will stay and when the time comes for him to leave, he has to do so," Synrem said. "The ILP will protect us from outsiders entering the state and the NRC will clear out all illegal immigrants living in our state since 1971," he said in support of his demands.

He warned that if the government fails to implement the ILP, the HYC would take steps to do so. "The HYC, henceforth, will take steps to ensure that if anybody residing in Meghalaya does not have the electoral photo-identity card, they should move out from here. We will conduct inspections from time to time."