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Anti-migrant bill: Trouble for Biren government

Trouble for the N Biren Singh government in Manipur could be in horizon in the coming days as the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) has renewed its campaign to demand constitutional protection to the indigenous people of the state

The previous three anti-migrant bills passed by the Manipur Assembly on August 31, 2015, during the previous Congress government headed by three-time Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, were eventually rejected by the Centre for various reasons, one of them apparently being the two diametrically opposing stand on the bills in the state.   

Then President Pranab Mukherjee refused his assent to the three bills. Manipur was on the boil for months due to protests demanding the conversion of the three anti-migrant bills into law. 

Earlier, JCILPS had led a sustained stir which lasted for months throwing normal life out of gear and that had finally forced the then Ibobi government to introduce and pass the anti-migrant bills. 

The contentious bills are the Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue (7th Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Manipur Shops and Establishment (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Manipur Protection of Peoples Bill, 2015. 

JCILPS, a conglomerate of different social organisations, demands an ILP-type protection for the state which has been encapsulated in the previous three anti-migrant bills passed by the state assembly.   

After there had been a lull in the campaign, the joint committee took up again its movement from September 4. Under the banner of the Kangleipak Students’ Association (KSA), similar movement was recently launched with an objective to reinvigorating the pressing demand of constitutional protection to the indigenous people of Manipur

On July 28 last, at the height of the KSA sponsored intensified protest in Imphal, Chief minister N Biren Singh had assured the Manipur Assembly his government would make efforts to introduce a bill in the House to safeguard the interest of the indigenous people. 

But his promise was not fulfilled fueling anger among the groups, especially the KSA which pledged to intensify the stir.   

The government could be in the wind if a fresh anti-migrant bill is not introduced in the ensuing winter session of the state assembly, according to sources.   

“Outsiders have outnumbered indigenous people, the Meitei, in the valley. We now have a captive market in our own land because of the non-Manipuris,” JCILPS convenor Arjun Telheiba told journalists on the sidelines of a silent public rally here on Sep 4.  

Telheiba had said the state’s culture and way of life have been heavily influenced by the outsiders affecting the people by such intermixing of cultures.  

The rally reiterated that the Manipur government should debar all non-locals from contesting elections and exercising their franchise, and introduction of a fresh anti-migrant bill in the ensuing winter session of the Manipur Assembly to protect the interests of indigenous people. 

Inner Line Permit System (ILP) is an attempt to protect the tribal culture that prevails all over the Northeast India. It helps in keeping a record of the number of people who are native to the state and the number of people who are coming from outside state

For the same reasons, Manipur has been demanding ILP, the sources said.

ILP is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.

It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain a permit for entering into the protected state. ILP is an offshoot of the British era Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873. It is still used in India to protect tribal cultures of the North East.

It serves as a means to protect the indigenous tribes from exploitation and preserve their fragile cultures and traditions. ILP can stop a mass influx of non-residents. 

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AT News Imphal's picture

Imphal. Manipur

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