M’laya Cabinet approves implementation of ILP

Correspondent Shillong, Dec 17 | Publish Date: 12/17/2019 11:45:56 AM IST

The Meghalaya cabinet on Tuesday approved a government resolution on implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to be tabled and passed during the one-day special session in the state Assembly on December 19.

The cabinet approval is significant in the wake of the growing demand from various civil society groups to implement ILP in the State in view of the amended Citizenship Act, 195 that grants Indian citizenship to six religious minorities of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan escaping persecution there. State’s opposition Congress, which had opposed the ILP while ruling the state, is now also supporting the implementation of permit system to check the entry of people to the state.

“The cabinet has unanimously approved the government resolution on ILP and the same will be passed by the state Assembly during a one-day special session on Thursday,” Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told journalists. Sangma said the delegation of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) coalition government, which met Home Minister, Amit Shah on Saturday, has demanded Shah that the ILP should be implemented in the State.

“We have demanded that ILP should be implemented in Meghalaya and the government has been very firm and informed the Union home minister that we will be going ahead with the resolution. All these moments and steps which are taking place have been a positive response,” the Chief Minister said.

The permit system, which is still in force in Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur derives from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, and entails issuance of official travel documents issued by the central government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period. 

The ILP, a British era regulation designed to preserve ethnicity and culture of the northeastern tribals, required all Indian citizens not usually residents of the area to secure a special permit for entering the border states and regions of the northeast. 

On the argument that resolution on ILP need not be passed in Assembly but the Meghalaya government can only issue a notification as per the principal act to extend the Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation, 1873 in Meghalaya, Sangma said, it is the preamble in the Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation that defined the areas where it can be notified and implemented.

“The preamble has been changed in the past through a Presidential notification. The recent one was done on December 11,  2019 where Manipur was added. 

A notification can only be done based on the preamble and the details that are there in the regulation. Until and unless it is there in the preamble, and the word Meghalaya not inserted, it will not be possible,” Sangma said.

On Monday, former legislator, Ardent Miller Basaïawmoit mentioned that in the principal act, the regulation extends to the district of Kachar, Kamrup, Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills, Lakhimpur, Naga Hills, Naogon and Sibsagar. 

“The act states that it shall be lawful for the state government to prescribe and from time to time to issue a notification to implement ILP. They may say that the notification is only for Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills, but recently, the government of Nagaland has extended ILP to Dimapur and it does not need the approval of the Centre. Therefore the people should not be misled,” Ardent said.

However, Sangma said that the former MLA may be referring to the earlier act where the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia were mentioned in the Preamble, adding, “but this is not there anymore and the option is not with the state government.”

Asked whether the Meghalaya government is prioritizing ILP or the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 that seeks registration of people from outside who visit Meghalaya, Sangma said, “the state government at the moment is moving for the resolution to urge the Central government to implement ILP.”

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