The activists demanding the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya and Manipur are disheartened by the statement made by Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (Northeast), Ministry of Home Affairs, that it shall not be implemented in any other States. However, it shall remain in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. The justification is that this is “unconstitutional” since it is violative of the Article 19 of the Constitution.

Several activists have deplored the discrimination and point out that the indigenous peoples are being swamped while the Union government remains a mute spectator. It may be recalled that activists in Manipur and Meghalaya have been agitating all these months demanding implementation of the ILP. Two persons died in the violent agitations in Meghalaya. Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma has said that there is no question of implementing it since the existing laws are powerful enough to check influx of foreigners. He further said that the ILP cannot give guarantee against the influx and settlement of foreigners and outsiders. He said the population of non-locals in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram had been increased alarmingly in the last decade despite the ILP.

Special court

Since the activists continued the agitations, the Meghalaya government set up a special court to collect the value of the properties destroyed during the agitations. The leaders of the activists will have to pay Rs.31 crore for the private and government properties destroyed so far. In Manipur, some suspected militants had started killing non-locals and migrant workers in bomb attacks. These developments were the restraining factors.

The case of Manipur is very different from that of Meghalaya. In Manipur, the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 was imposed shortly after the merger of Manipur with India on October 15, 1949. This helped check the unfettered entry of non-locals. However, the government lifted it on November 18, 1950. An NGO, FRIENDS, has been demanding reimplementation of the ILP since November 15, 2005.

In response to the agitations of this NGO, the Cabinet decided on July 12, 2012 to approach the Union government for the reimplementation of the ILP.