Updated on 20 Nov 2021, 4:27 am
(File Photo: IFP)
Off and on, the state Chief Minister had been reminding the people of Manipur in recent times about the concern Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah has for the indigenous inhabitants of the state by extending the Inner Line Permit system (ILP) to Manipur. Yes, the Inner Line Permit System was extended in Manipur on December 11, 2019 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 after an unprecedented announcement in Parliament by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the wake of protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act in the Northeast region. Manipuris had for decades been demanding a regulation to check the entry of migrants from neighbouring states and the mainland, and well, a constitutional safeguard for the indigenous population of the state, particularly the Meiteis.
Manipur was very particular about the entry and exit of outsiders since the times of Kings and it used to maintain a strict registry of any outsider entering the state or any local leaving the state. Yes, a type of census was regularly carried out, as evidenced in our chronicles like Langthaballon and Sangai Phammang. Before merger, there was a pass system to regulate the entry of outsiders in the state but it was abolished on November 18, 1950 by the then Chief Commissioner Himmat Singh. In the recent anti-outsider stir, the consensus was not on the introduction of ILP alone as demanded by a section of the society. The responsibility to carry forward the movement for protection of indigenous rights from the onslaught of non-locals was, of course, handed over to the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) which was formed on July 4, 2012. It followed private member resolutions in the Manipur legislative assembly, one of them brought about by the late MLA Dr Ibohalbi Singh in July 23, 2012 which was passed by voice vote.
Another MLA RK Anand also raised the issue in 2013, but the same was not given a passage. The then Congress government brought up 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 and the bills were passed by voice vote. While the bills were rejected by the agitators, it was also objected to by certain hill-based organisations. Sapam Robinhood was killed in the agitation demanding withdrawal of the Bill on July 8, 2015. The three Bills faced objection in the hills as they 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. So it is clear that the movement was never about the extension of ILP in Manipur as projected by certain sections of the society including BJP, which so much wanted a big congratulations for it. 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 it turned out to be damp squib. JCILPS officials are now alleging that many non-locals are entering the state through Mao and Jiribam without proper verification or let off without issuing valid ILP permits. In comparison, Nagaland police is very strict with verification of ILP papers even before Manipur was brought under the ILP regime. The other day, members of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) detained at least 62 non-locals for not possessing ILP passes from Imphal Bazar area and handed them over to police. JCILPS members checked the permits of around 150 non-locals during its drive at the bazar areas and about 70 persons were detained for furnishing invalid ILP permits. Now is the time for looking back and go for a real-time regulation instead of lip-service.