Meghalaya's concerns over CAA addressed, ILP should be extended: Conrad Sangma

Mr. Sangma also mentioned a resolution passed by the State Assembly to extend the ILP to the State

February 18, 2024 04:48 pm | Updated 05:26 pm IST - Shillong

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma. | Photo Credit: ANI

Concerns of Meghalaya over the Citizenship Amendment Act have been addressed as most areas of the State come under Schedule 6, which is exempted from the citizenship law, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said, even as he added that the Inner Line Permit should be extended to the State.

In an interview to PTI, Mr. Sangma, who also heads the National People's Party (NPP), expressed concern over 'spillover effect' in the state if the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is implemented, and stressed on the requirement for Inner Line Permit (ILP), which will restrict the entry of outsiders.

Asked about the CAA, which has faced opposition in the state that shares more than 400-km-long border with Bangladesh, Mr. Sangma said their concerns have been addressed as it excludes Schedule 6 areas.

"When the CAA had come out in the first draft, there was no provision of exemption for any state. After we raised the concern, we met the Home Minister, we met other leaders, then there was a revisit in the entire draft and they came up with a provision where Meghalaya and other areas with Sixth Schedule and ILP was exempted," Mr. Sangma told PTI.

"In every area in Meghalaya, except a few square metres in Shillong... small area which we call European ward, is the only area which is a non schedule area. Majority of the State is scheduled area. Once an exemption is there, we don't have any concerns. So our concerns have been addressed," Mr. Sangma said.

"We have just requested the Government of India if we can still have the ILP... Because whatever happens in other states could have spill-over effect here, we have requested for that. We are happy that the Government of India exempted Meghalaya. We have asked if the non-scheduled area can also be exempted, though it is very very small," he said.

He also mentioned a resolution passed by the State Assembly to extend the ILP to the State.

The Meghalaya Assembly in December 2019 had adopted a resolution for implementing the ILP regime in the State.

The ILP is a special permit required by "outsiders" from other regions of India to enter the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur.

"Our concerns are that anybody from outside the country is a non-Indian, and illegal immigration is illegal immigration. Citizens coming from other countries would be in a way foreigners coming into our country," he added.

Passed in December 2019 by the Parliament, the CAA grants Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who arrived in India till December 31, 2014.

Home Minister Amit Shah has said rules for implementing the CAA will be issued before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The provisions of the Act will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.

The Sixth Schedule protects tribal populations, providing autonomy to communities through the creation of Autonomous Development Councils, which can frame laws on land, public health and agriculture.

Asked about Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh's statement on deporting those who have come in the state after 1961, Mr. Sangma said it is for the state and the Union governments to decide, but added, "The situation in Manipur is complicated and those decisions will have to be taken keeping ground factors in mind. It is for the Government of India and the Government of Manipur to decide," he said.

"From a practical point of view, it is very complicated. How will they implement that decision has to be equally looked into," he added.

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