A little known West Bengal-based organisation, Amara Bangali, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court opposing the implementation of the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) in Manipur.
Fearing that there may be communal tension, the Manipur government has taken up all necessary steps to maintain law and order.
The Supreme Court has directed the Manipur government to file an affidavit.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren, who is also in charge of Home, said, “The government has made all preparations to meet the challenge of this organisation in the Supreme Court. These people are the ones who had done nothing good for us”.
Mr. Biren has been saying that the Narendra Modi government’s move of imposing the ILPS was a ‘gift’ to the people which had been long denied by the previous Congress government. It would go a long way in protecting the interests of the indigenous people who “fear being swamped”, he said. The ILPS has been in force in Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Outsiders planning to enter these States must obtain a permit specifying the number of days they can stay and they must leave after it expires.
On January 7, leaders of four students’ organisations, AMSU, MSF, KSA and SUK, staged a protest in Imphal city condemning the Amara Bangali, reportedly formed to protect the interests of Bengalis in the Northeast. They also torched the effigy of its general secretary Bakul Chandra Roy and the police picked up some leaders. Haobijam Challamba, convener of the students’ wing of the Joint Committee of the ILPS, said that it was “very unfortunate” that the petition had been filed against the ILPS. The committee would continue all forms of democratic agitations till the petition was withdrawn, he said and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested student leaders.
M. Tombi, president of the Shiva Sena who is also the convener of the Manipur Democratic Alliance of several political parties, said, “ The time has come to take collective decision to stop use of the Bengali script in Manipur. This is in protest against the unwarranted and uncalled for provocation by the West Bengal-based organisation. The ILPS was enforced in Manipur two years ago. Our party shall extend full cooperation to any step taken by the government and the people in this regard”.
With the advent of Vaishnavism in Manipur in the 18th century the Manipuri script was replaced by the Bengali script. This is despite the fact that the Manipuri language has no use for several Bengali letters and the people cannot properly pronounce some of them. All these years MEELAL, an organisation, has been striving for the restoration of the Manipuri script. Today all students from primary to university level cannot read or write the Bengali script since only Manipuri script is taught. An agreement had been reached between MEELAL and vernacular newspapers to switch over to the Manipur script.