In the month since the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on August 31, Assam’s neighbouring North Eastern states have intensified checks on people crossing state borders without proper papers, and have turned back scores of people back to Assam.
In Meghalaya, the checks are based on “valid IDs” to prove that the person is an Indian while to enter Mizoram, an Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required, which the state government grants to only those whose names appear in the NRC.
According to data from the Meghalaya Police Monday, “1,329 detected persons without proof of Indian citizen were sent back directly to bring their documentary proof”.
DIG of the anti-infiltration and security wing of the Meghalaya Police, O Pasi, told The Indian Express, “Full-fledged checking is going on. We are checking what valid documents the person has — but we are not checking NRC.”
In September, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had highlighted to Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a meeting in Guwahati that there were fears about people left out of the NRC entering Meghalaya.
To such concerns, raised by Sangma and others, Shah had said, “I want to assure both that not even one ghuspetiya (infiltrator) will be allowed to reside in Assam nor be allowed to enter into any other state. We do not want to free only Assam from infiltrators but free the entire country from intruders; and, when I say the entire country, the states of North East India are included in that.”
Last year after the draft NRC was published, the powerful Khasi Students Union (KSU) had set up check gates on their own alleging that state was not doing enough checking. Later, these check gates were withdrawn when state police intensified checks.
In Mizoram, Home Minister Lalchamliana had said in September that ILPs will not be issued to Assam residents whose names did not figure in the NRC.
The ILP is based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873, and it is a special permit that is required by “outsiders” from other regions of India to enter the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
In Kolasib district, which borders Assam, police say that non-ILP holders are detained every day and people from Assam without names in NRC are granted an ILP.
Kolasib SP, Vanlalfaka Ralte, told The Indian Express, “Our checking has intensified after the NRC publication and ILP is not issued to those from Assam who do not have names in the NRC.”
“Everyday, 10-15 people without ILP attempting to enter Mizoram are caught. You can calculate from that the total number since September 1.”
Nagaland officials confirmed that they too have intensified checks and people from Assam are asked for proof of their names in the NRC before issuing an ILP. “If they do not have, they can give some other valid ID also. But there has been no case of suspicious people from Assam not on the NRC trying to enter Nagaland,” a senior official.
Abhijit Sinha, Principal Secretary (Home), Nagaland, told The Indian Express, “Our checks and monitoring have been intensified and manpower required has also been increased. Post the publication of NRC in Assam there were apprehensions that there could be movement of illegal immigrants into Nagaland. As of now, the flow has been normal.”
In an order dated September 2, Sinha had said that any usual influx of people without valid document has to be immediately brought to the notice of the district administration and that village and town authorities need to maintain strict vigil “against influx of people from outside the state in violation of the existing rules/norms.”