In view of the ever increasing number of non-local residents in the state, seven major student bodies of Manipur have submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding the implementation of National Register of Citizenship (NRC) and establishment of state population commission to check and balance the population growth.
The representative of student bodies, namely, All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM), Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS), Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), Kangleipak Students’ Association (KSA), Manipuri Students Federation (MSF) and Students’ Union of Kangleipak (SUK) left Imphal for a visit to Delhi from July 1-5.
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The main purpose of the visit was to share the issue of continuous inflows of migrants to the state and to urge the PM to take up necessary action. During their visit, the representatives interacted with many key leaders and union ministers and submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The memorandum recollected that Manipur, prior to its merger to the Dominion of India in 1949, had strict regulation for outsiders visiting and settling in Manipur. But it was done away with by the then chief commissioner, Himmat Singh, opening a floodgate for outsiders to come and settle in the small state of Manipur in 1950. This had resulted in the growth of population beyond imagination and growth pattern difference between the hill and valley, the stated.
The increase of population can’t be explained only by natural birth but also by migration from neighbouring countries and states, it added and also stated that when one examines the composition of the population based on mother tongue spoken, it comes to the conclusion that the immigrants are mostly from the cognate tribes from neighbouring Myanmar, Nepali from Nepal and Muslims from Bangladesh, the latter now a distinct force in Jiribam District bordering Assam.
The memorandum further stated that the people of Manipur have been demanding the updating and implementation of the NRC through the available records as done in Assam, with 1951 as the base year as Manipur joined the Union of India on 15 October, 1949.
The demands are strictly made based on its need and necessity as Manipur is one of the smallest but hugely impacted by influx of migrants. Manipur comprises almost 90 per cent hills where land cannot be bought by non-ST, while in the valley, the population density was 730 person per square km as per 2011 census. The population increase impacts the hills as many aliens are staying there as shared-croppers and it will be difficult to dislodge them later. It will ultimately lead to frequent conflict between various communities, it added.
The memorandum also highlighted that the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) is not that impactful as the definition of inhabitant is not defined. Recently the state cabinet decided to adopt 1961 as the base year for identifying the inhabitants of Manipur. This may help to regulate the inflows of visitors but it is our hope that at least the state government can regulate the inflow of visitors, they stated.
The people have also been demanding the establishment of the State Population Commission. Its importance and relevance need not be brought out in this memorandum as even the union government felt the need and constituted a National Population Commission in 2020.
As such state government may kindly be advised to establish a State Population Commission with technical expertise, it added, while appealing to protect the indigenes of the State, which are being swamped and marginalized in their own home state.