The Meghalaya Cabinet Friday approved amendments to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) 2016, which will lead to laws that require non-resident visitors to register themselves on the lines of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
The move comes in the backdrop of demands for an ILP-like regime and concerns by civil society and political leaders, including Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, that people excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam might try to enter Meghalaya. ILP is based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873. It is a special permit required by “outsiders” from other regions of the country to enter the three states where it is currently in force.
Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong told reporters that the amendments, in the form of an ordinance, will come into effect immediately and be regularised in the next Assembly session. They came after consultations between the government with political parties, stakeholders and NGOs in the state. The amendments give more teeth to the laws in place through the existing Act.
Tynsong, however, declined to comment when asked about similarities between these amendments and the ILP. He also did not comment on the implementation of NRC in Meghalaya. Speaking to The Indian Express later, he said the amendments were not particularly for illegal foreigners, since there are other laws against them.
Tynsong told reporters that in the original Act, the focus was on registration and documentation of tenants and that the amendments will extend similar rules to cover all non-state residents visiting or living in the state.
“This Act is indicative only for those people who are interested in visiting our state as tourists, labourers or for education and business. With this Act in place, they will need to comply with guidelines to be prepared in the form of rules,” Tynsong said.
He said the new rules will encompass not only tenants but all visitors and tourists staying, for example, in hotels, home stays, relatives’ houses, etc. “We are not stopping them. We welcome them, but with detailed information…” he said.
The Deputy CM said the government will soon draft new rules regarding what documents people need to submit. He said the government would try to make the process “short and simple”.