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Protests continue to rock Manipur

EMOTIVE ISSUE:Indigenous people fear that as in Tripura, they would be swamped by “outsiders” if the State government does not act decisively.Here, women stage a demonstration defying curfew at Nongmeibung in Imphal on Sunday over the death of a boy the previous day during an agitation in Manipur. —Photo: PTI

EMOTIVE ISSUE:Indigenous people fear that as in Tripura, they would be swamped by “outsiders” if the State government does not act decisively.Here, women stage a demonstration defying curfew at Nongmeibung in Imphal on Sunday over the death of a boy the previous day during an agitation in Manipur. —Photo: PTI  

Campaign seeks mandatory permission for Indian citizens entering State

The ongoing campaign for implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur is threatening to escalate into a major turmoil with more and more indigenous people joining the agitation.

Even as Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh sought ILP — a system making it mandatory for Indian citizens to seek permission for entering the State — from the Centre on Saturday, fresh protests were reported at several places in Imphal on Sunday.

The agitation took an ugly turn last week when one student was killed in police firing. Over 150 persons, including some policemen, have been injured in the clashes so far.

People have started hanging effigies of 57 MLAs — three MLAs have been disqualified — on clothes lines, demanding their resignations as they have “collectively failed” to implement the ILP. The ILP is currently in operation in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

Manipuris fear that like in Tripura, they too will be swamped by “outsiders” and become minorities in their home State. And their fear is not without basis. According to the 2001 Census, the population of Manipur was 23.94 lakh. The Meiteis, the majority community, have the highest population with 7.51 lakh, followed closely by the migrant workers with a population of 7.04 lakh. The population of all tribes put together was 6.71 lakh. The Muslims, who have been settled in Manipur since 1606, had a population of 1.67 lakh.

The State’s population has grown to 27.22 lakh, according to the 2011 Census. The government has not released the community-wise break up for obvious reasons.

An NGO, FREINDS, was spearheading the campaign for ILP in Manipur. After several other NGOs, women’s groups and students’ bodies joined the group, it was renamed the ‘Joint Committee for Inner Line Permit System’ (JCILPS). Chief Minister Singh has said his government will extend help to the NGOs to detect “foreigners” and would not remain a silent spectator if genuine Indians are harassed. He brushed aside the demand to pull up migrant workers saying they were Indians and hence, they have a constitutional right to stay and work anywhere in the country.

Manipur earlier exercised ILP in another nomenclature — the Bengal Eastern Frontiers Regulation, 1873 — to check the entry and stay of outsiders. However, former Chief Commissioner Himayat Singh abolished it on November 18, 1950, without assigning any reason. The floodgates were opened to migrant workers. Many criminals, including sex offenders, fled to Manipur to escape arrest in their States. Activists claim sexual crimes by some migrants who come with fake identity cards to the State.

Assembly resolution

The Manipur Assembly had adopted a resolution on July 13, 2012, to implement the ILP and the Chief Minister wrote a letter regarding the same to the Union government on August 3, 2012. However, the then Home Minister turned down the demand saying the ILP cannot be implemented in Manipur.

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