Recently, the newly established Manipur State Population Commission drew the attention of the state intelligentsia on abnormal trend of population growth in the state vis-à-vis the illegal immigrants’ issue.
In a gathering, the state Home Commissioner focussed on the notable population growth in Manipur over the last 130 years. He cited census data, stating that the Meitei population increased from 1.3 lakh in 1881 to 12.5 lakh in 2011. Similarly, the Naga population grew from 60,000 in 1881 to 6.04 lakh in 2011. The Kuki-Mizo population also saw a significant growth, rising from 17,000 in 1881 to 4.48 lakh in 2011.
He also said, the government constituted a cabinet sub-committee of three ministers headed by Hills and Tribal Affairs Minister Letpao Haokip on February 16 to look into the illegal immigrants’ issue.
Verification drives of illegal immigrants were conducted in the five districts bordering Myanmar.
Within a short period, over 2000 illegal immigrants were identified. This was about two-and-half months before communal riots broke out in the state.
The Manipur government has resumed the process of collecting biometric details of identified illegal immigrants in the state.
Around 2,500 of illegal immigrants in the state were identified, majority of whom are currently in Tengnoupal and Chandel districts which share border with Myanmar.
The state government had started the identification process earlier, but it came to a halt after violence broke out in May.
According to a state government official, illegal immigrants arrested in Churachandpur district have been kept in the Foreigners Detention Centre and Sajiwa jail in Imphal East district and Imphal jail in Imphal West district.
In all, 104 inmates are in the Foreigners Detention Centre, 60 in Sajiwa jail and 70 in Imphal jail.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the state to complete the bio-metric data capturing exercise by September 30.
This bio-metric capturing exercise had been one of the prime reasons for discontent among the Kuki-Chin-Mizo population recently dubbed as Kuki-Zo.
Students’ organisations based both in the hills and valley is now pushing for implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state.
The state government had constituted the State Population Commission for the basic purpose of analysing abnormal growth of population in some hill districts or detecting illegal migrants, but also of accurate population data which are linked with development indicators or strategies and benefit schemes.
And there is always room for misconceptions and wrong interpretations which often causes unwanted tension among the various communities inhabiting the state.
Taking exception to the proposed delimitation exercise in 2020, several civil society organisations had come up with a demand for setting up a State Population Commission to resolve the issue of abnormal population growths and for finding accurate Census data.
Now, as many as six student bodies of Manipur demanded amendment in National Register of Citizens (NRC) to detect and deport the illegal immigrant and initiate necessary legal action.
On the other hand, the state had been objecting to a delimitation exercise based on ‘wrong’ Census figures.
Census operations of 2001 in Manipur were controversial and results are misleading with abnormal growth rates.
Another fact is that, there is mismatch between Census 2001 data and Electoral Roll 2020 prepared by the State Election Department.
The 2001 Census data exceeds the voter list enrolled in 2020 in many of the age groups, according to experts.
Nearly 63,765 individuals are not reflected in the Electoral Roll 2020. It indicates that these persons are fake. Electoral Roll is a sensitive issue. Only a few individual cases are there where a voter is excluded from the list.
A special drive has been made through rectification of Electoral Rolls in Manipur. Recently, about 75,000 bogus voters have been removed.
When two important data Census and Electoral Roll does not match, it is but certain that either of the two have errors and are not based on actual position.
READ MORE: IFP Editorial