While some states in NE region are facing agitations for new state, homeland, alternative arrangement Manipur and Meghalaya are wallowing in the intensified demand for the introduction of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to regulate the entry and temporary stay of the outsiders in general and migrant workers in particular.
Under pressure from ten students and youths organisations the Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma will hold talks with the representatives in Shillong on August 29. He said that the problem of illegal immigration needs to be solved and the government is contemplating a legislative measure.
There had been reports of rapes, murders and other heinous crimes reportedly committed by some migrant workers in Meghalaya. Suspected militants had also shot dead some migrant workers in the recent past.
In view of the burgeoning agitations the state government has been unable to ignore the demand for the implementation of the ILP.
In Manipur too the state government, underpinned by a cabinet decision and an unanimous Assembly resolution, had written a letter to the Union government on August 3, 2012 requesting the reintroduction of
the ILP. However there is no response so far. The Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was reported to have told some officials that it is not possible to do so now. The inflamed activists have been demanding to know why it cannot be done in Manipur since the ILP has been in force in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Statistics show that the population of the migrant workers in Manipur is much more than all tribes put together. The government has been reacting to the intensified agitations by saying that it supports the
detection and deportation of foreigners. Some foreigners had been sentenced to imprisonment after being arrested by police. However the government shall come down with a heavy hand if genuine Indians are
harassed in any manner since the constitution permits them to stay in any corner of the country.
The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 which was enforced in Manipur checked the untrammeled entry of outsiders. However it was lifted from the state on November 18, 1950. The students and activists
in Manipur and Meghalaya are asking why the ILP cannot be implemented since it is already there in three other NE states.
The kingdom of Manipur had no outsiders in the past. However king Khagemba brought 1000 Muslims as POWs from Cachar district of Assam in 1606. They were used in making guns for the royal army. Later they
were allowed to settle in Manipur and socially and linguistically they were assimilated with the Manipuris. In 1946 the king's court gave permission for the construction of 64 houses for the Nepalis who were retired soldiers in Assam Rifles. But sources say today the population of the Nepalis in Manipur is more than 3,00,000. In fact one Nepali politician, Kishor Thapa, was elected MLA from a tribal dominated constituency. Now there is free entry of the outsiders in Manipur whereas no non-local can enter Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh without permits. They can also stay there for only limited period.
The agitation for ILP can no longer be ignored since suspected militants have started killing migrant workers in Manipur. In the past too, there were such killings triggering a mass exodus of the migrant workers. The absence of an official explanation from the Union government for its refusal to implement the ILP in the remaining NE states where the people fear of being swamped by the migrants has only compounded the situation