Editorial

Poorly applied

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/10/2018 5:41:57 AM IST

Against the backdrop of rising fear and resentment against influx of illegal immigrants suspected to be of Bangladeshi origin, the hill tribes of the north east states are demanding stricter enforcement of the Inner Line Permit (ILP). The ILP was framed under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the Chin Hill Regulations, 1896 by the then British rulers to provide special protection and safeguard for the peaceful existence of the indigenous tribal people. The ILP as it is known has been in force in Nagaland (erstwhile Naga Hills) through the Government of India Act 1915. However the ILP is not equipped to be applied on foreign nationals as it was meant only to check and regulate the entry and stay of other Indian citizens into prohibited areas. The basic argument in favour of ILP is that it fulfils the objective of ensuring protection to local indigenous population, their way of life, land ownership and cultures. In the recent decades, the mushrooming of illegal immigrants suspected to be of Bangladeshi origin, has gripped the north east. The continuous influx on one side and on the other side, the inability of the current laws to detect, detain and deport aliens has made the situation worse because of politicisation. The recent efforts to update National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has only proved that. The NRC has left as many as 40 lakh stateless. The fears arose mainly on account of the NRC in Assam as other neighbouring states feel that most of those who would be deemed non-Indian citizens in Assam would cross over to their respective states. This fear is real and not a figment of any imagination. Once again, it should be reminded that the ILP was not enacted to tackle illegal immigrants. However majority of indigenous tribes of the north eastern states cling to the belief that the ILP would be the panacea. As illegal immigrants fall under people with doubtful Indian citizenship; the irony is that the ILP, which is meant to restrict Indian citizens, cannot play a dual role. It may be pointed out that since illegal immigrants suspected to be Bangladeshis are foreigners, it would take another law to tackle this problem. Meghalaya has adopted ILP and joined Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur is also moving towards enacting the ILP Act which would soon leave only Assam and Tripura as states where the Act is not in force. One of the points that has gone in favour of retention or implementation of the ILP in Meghalaya and Manipur has been the influx of immigrants. According to one report, Manipur has seen a massive increase in the number of immigrants from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The report cited that as per the 2001 census, the number of immigrants had shot up to 0.7 million (7,04,488) or one-third of the total population, as against 6,70,782 tribals and 9,18,626 Meiteis. Such a staggering figure has been blamed on the lifting of the ILP in 1950.The fear is well founded and that has given legitimacy for ILP. The ILP has to be enforced effectively if it is to be useful. Laxity in enforcing ILP is as good as no ILP. The state governments have to strictly enforce ILP, till other laws are enacted to tackle immigrants, or they’ll be responsible for unwanted situations.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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