Shillong, April 16 : An apex body of over 17 organisations, which have been agitating to implement the Inner Line Permit (ILP) across Meghalaya, on Friday organised a demonstration in front of the civil secretariat in Shillong over the delay in implementing the regulatory system.
The Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (CoMSO), an umbrella body of more than 17 organisations, took out the surprise protest unnerving the security forces and administrations.
CoMSO General Secretary Roy Kupar Synrem said that Friday's stir was held to remind the state government about its indifferent attitude towards the demand for the implementation of ILP in the state.
"The CoMSO has given a stern warning to the government that if the necessary steps are not taken immediately for the early implementation of ILP in Meghalaya, we would be forced to mobilise the indigenous people of the state to march towards the civil secretariat and put it under lock and key.
"We have no use of our elected representatives if they cannot fulfil the aspirations of the people, especially laws to protect the indigenous people of the state," the CoMSO leader said.
If the ILP is enforced in entire Meghalaya, like in four other northeastern states -- Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur, the state would keep itself out of the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
The ILP is an official travel document that allows an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.
The CoMSO has been spearheading the agitation since 2019 for the introduction of ILP in the remaining parts of the state.
Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik had earlier intervened in the matter, but there has been no headway.
The CoMSO, after several months of silence due to the Covid-19 induced situation, had resumed its stir in November last year by holding black flag protests across Meghalaya.
"We have been asking all the 60 Meghalaya MLAs and three MPs of the state to hold sit-in demonstrations in Delhi to ensure that the ILP is enforced in the state soon," Synrem told IANS over phone.
"Even though the Meghalaya Assembly had unanimously adopted a resolution on December 19, 2019, the Union Home Ministry is yet to take appropriate steps to enforce ILP in the remaining parts of the state," he said.
The CoMSO also leader warned the National People's Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government that if the ILP is not implemented soon, there would be more protests across the state.
The BJP with two MLAs is part of the MDA government in the state and one of its legislators, Alexander Laloo Hek, is the Health Minister.
The ILP under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, was in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. On December 11, 2019, it was promulgated in Manipur, to allow for inward travel of an Indian citizen into the ILP enforced areas for a stipulated period with the written permission of the state authority.
To visit the ILP-governed states, foreign nationals and even people from other states of India now need to take a permit.
The main aim of the ILP system is to check settlement of other Indian nationals in these states to protect the native population. Protection is also extended to the indigenous people with regard to land, jobs and other facilities.
The ILP is currently issued for a minimum of 15 days and maximum one year, depending on the applicant's purpose and necessity.
The Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland governments are issuing ILP through the online process to facilitate any Indian to obtain this from anywhere in the country.
The Central government had earlier announced that the CAA would not apply to the ILP and the Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC) areas.
In the northeastern states, there are 10 TADCs, constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. While Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram have three TADCs each, Tripura has one.
All the eight northeastern states and neighbouring West Bengal witnessed violent protests in 2019 end and early 2021 against the CAA.
Notified on January 10 last year, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA) seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims minorities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who have migrated from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, after facing faith-based persecution.