After Assam’s release of the draft NRC, Meghalaya has sounded an alert fearing influx of those who have not made it to the list.

 

With the release of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, civil society and the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) in Meghalaya have revived the demand for Inner Line Permit (ILP). Northeastern states such as Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram fear a possible influx of people who have not made it to the draft NRC. However, the fear of influx in Meghalaya is more, as the state shares a 900-km long open border with Assam.

The ILP is an official document required by outsiders to travel to places declared “protected areas” and was originally introduced by the British in several parts of the Northeast to protect “indigenous cultures” in the region. Currently, the ILP is required for entry into Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

However, after the release of the draft NRC in Assam, Meghalaya has sounded an alert against the possible influx, though the Meghalaya government has said that it would take multiple security measures in the state.

Meghalaya Inspector General of Police (IGP) H. Nongpluh told The Sunday Guardian: “We are prepared to check any influx; as of now, there is no such problem.”

“We have made entry and exit points to keep vigil on attempts at infiltration from Assam. The superintendents of police (SPs) of the border districts of Meghalaya have been directed to keep in touch with their Assam counterparts to foil any attempt at infiltration or chaos in the region,” Nongpluh added.

The security arrangements in the state are being constantly reviewed by Chief Secretary Y. Tshering, Director General of Police (DGP) Swaraj Bir Singh, Additional Chief Secretary In-Charge (home) Peter W. Ingti, and Commissioner and Secretary (Home) S. Kharlyngdoh.

Besides the police, in Meghalaya, the KSU has also set up checkpoints on National Highways. In 2013, the KSU was at the forefront of a massive agitation for the implementation of ILP. At the time, the Centre had denied the ILP demand on the grounds of “constitutionality”. The KSU has once again raised its long standing ILP demand.

On the promise of anonymity, a KSU member said: “The KSU has asked all village heads to be vigilant to prevent influx of rejected citizens. Also, the need for ILP-like laws is being felt in Meghalaya. The ILP will work as a protective tool to check the influx of illegal immigrants.”

Meghalaya has been witnessing a unique pattern of influx of Bangladeshi immigrants. Thungaluck Pema, a civil society member from the state, told The Sunday Guardian: “Many Bangladeshi immigrants come to settle in Meghalaya after getting their domicile documents prepared in Assam. To check such activities, we need strict laws like ILP.”   

While the Centre is yet to announce a plan to deal with the future of those who fail the citizenship test, the Assam government has said that illegal immigrants will lose their voting rights. Also, the final exclusion from the NRC list will depend on judicial scrutiny.

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