After years of violent demands for protection against the influx of outsiders, the Manipur government is likely to table a bill in the Assembly that seeks to put in place regulations similar to the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS). The Protection of Manipuri People Bill, which is being drafted presently by a committee set up by the government, will require “non-Manipuri” people to obtain a permit before entering the state.
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is a special permit that is required by “outsiders” from the rest of the country to enter the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. Manipur minister Thongam Biswajit Singh, who is also convenor of the drafting committee, said, “We are trying to table it on July 20, when the Assembly starts. We had several meetings with all stakeholders and we have almost finalised everything.”
“Individuals and groups have suggested some more points in the draft and we will incorporate that, prepare a final draft and then table it in the Assembly.” The ILP, which can be received after applying either online or physically, mentions the dates of travel and also specifies the areas in the state, which the ILP holder can travel to.
The system was introduced during colonial times to protect the commercial interests of the British, and post-independence it is seen as an instrument to protect the interests of the indigenous people from the outsiders.
In May, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that the state government will make the “best possible efforts to table a bill similar to ILPS in order to protect the indigenous people of the state” in the next Assembly session. Arjun Telheiba, convener of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) which spearheads the demand in Manipur, said that the Bill has sections that regulate the entry of outsiders and also includes certain regulations on non-local tenants.
“There is one issue about the defining who is a ‘Manipuri’. The draft says the cut-off should be January 21, 1972 (when Manipur became a full-fledged state) but we demand the cut off should be 1951. People who were residing in Manipur prior to 1951 should be called ‘Manipuris’,” he said. Manipur merged with India in 1949. Telheiba said he was confident that 1951 as cut-off would be acceptable. “The ILPS will be very effective in regulating migrants from other states of India,” he said. According to Thongam Biswajit Singh, this issue has “already been discussed”.
HM Mangchinkhup, chief convenor of Joint Action Committee Against Anti-Tribal Bills had spearheaded the agitation against the three similar bills tabled by the previous Congress government in 2015. He said that a 1951 cut-off was problematic for tribal communities as data of several villages in the National Register of Citizens, 1951 as well as in the Village Directory of 1951 are not available or not accurate – which in turn could render many tribals as non-state subjects. He also said that the cut-off year should be taken as 1972.