Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh certainly needs to set his priorities right. There are diverse challenges and complicated issues confronting the state with so many conflicting viewpoints floating around on issues. For example, while the Naga and Kuki civil society organisations seem to have differences on every conceivable issue, they find common ground on land issues and forest rights.
On the question of territorial integrity of the state, the Meiteis do not see eye to eye with the Naga groups. Yet, they found common ground on the migration issue. In recent times, United Naga Council and Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) joined forces to express their commitment to fight the issue of illegal migration together, student organisations broadly based in the valley and All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM) together came out in demand for National Register of Citizens (NRC) and establishment of a State Population Commission.
On the other hand, JCILPS has called for scrapping the state Cabinet decision, settling 1961 as the base year for implementation of Inner Line Permit in the state and making it 1951. Considering it a major reason for creating a demographic imbalance in the state and a threat to indigenous population, COCOMI and UNC has demanded the adoption of a resolution to set up the state population commission and updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in respect of the state of Manipur with a fixed cut-off base year to identify illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile the demand of JCILPS is that the base year should be 1951 as the former pass and permit system to enter Manipur was abolished on November 18, 1950 by the then Chief Commissioner.
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When the three bills namely The Protection of Manipur People's Bill, 2015; The Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform (7th Amendment) Bill 2015 and The Manipur Shops & Establishment (2nd amendment) Bill, 2015 were passed it was rejected by the agitators and objected to by certain hill based organisations. The three Bills were termed anti-tribal bills and nine persons were killed in a protest at Churachandpur.
While the President of India cancelled the first bill and the two other bills were put under suspension. Although the movement frittered out, the so-called Inner Line Permit system was never implemented in the way as desired or envisaged by the self-styled champions of the movement. State-specific rules or regulations for implementation of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 were never framed, while it was only given lip-service.
The ILP check-posts at Mao and Jiribam seem very strict in the beginning, but later on it turned out to be damp squib. Many non-locals are entering the state through Mao and Jiribam without proper verification or let off without issuing valid ILP permits and there seems to be no mechanism to monitor as to how many outsiders are overstaying their welcome or a penalty for staying beyond the time allowed by the permit issued.
Initially, the state police was helpless in the absence of state specific rules and regulation with regard to the ILP except for the fact that outsiders have to possess a permit for entering and staying in Manipur. But, when chief minister recently sounded the battle bugle against illegals staying in the state without valid ILP or in hiding the state forces went on overdrive.
Every day, police began checking non-locals for valid permits and in the process many outsiders with fake Aadhaar cards and ILP passes were hauled up. Even gangs engaged in issuing fake Aadhaar cards and ILP passes were busted. It is not known how long this campaign against illegals is going to continue. Just before the ILP campaign, the police concentrated its activities on drugs and alcohol and as it was met with stiff resistance they shifted their energies to the ILP campaign. However, unless specific rules and regulations are framed the campaign will again frittered out.