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Inner Line Permit: Manipur in grip of protests, bandhs against ‘outsiders’

Biren said an all-party meeting held Monday to discuss the ILP agitation has decided to seek the Centre’s assistance.

Written by Esha Roy | Kolkata |
May 10, 2016 4:21:52 am

With the Assembly elections barely nine months away, agitations to implement some form of the Inner Line Permit (ILP), which restricts entry of outsiders in Manipur, has started anew, even as protests against the ILP are also growing.

While a 42-hour bandh called by the Joint Committee for Inner Line Permit (JCILP), a group of civic organisations in the state that is spearheading the movement since 2012, concluded Sunday and, like bandhs in the last few years, brought life to a complete standstill in capital Imphal, the ruling Congress has called the committee’s demand “tweaked”.

Read | Manipur’s Inner Line Permit Row: 100 days on, tribals refuse to bury youths killed during stir

Stating that the JCILP’s demand this year is specific – to ensure “outsiders’’ don’t get to vote in the approaching elections — Manipur Congress vice president and spokesperson N Biren Singh said: “This is a difficult task to achieve. How do we identify who is illegal and who is not? There is no parameter in place right now.”

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Biren said an all-party meeting held Monday to discuss the ILP agitation has decided to seek the Centre’s assistance. “We have already sought an appointment with the Union Home Minister and the President between May 16 and 20. An all-party delegation will put forward a request to see whether it is possible that some form of the three Bills brought in earlier can be implemented,’’ Biren told The Indian Express.

The Bills were slammed by the JCILP, which wanted ILP to be implemented in “pure form”.

The ILP is a special permit required to enter certain restricted areas in the country — usually states close to the international border. Indian citizens require an ILP to enter states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. The system was first introduced by the British, restricting entry into these areas to protect their commercial interests.

Opposition to the ILP agitations, meanwhile, is coming up from tribal organisations, which contend that the Land Reform Bill, one of the three Bills, was an instrument used by the Meitei-dominated state government to grab tribal land.

Stressing that the Bills are “not anti-tribal”, a JCILP leader said: “There are 20 tribal MLAs in the Assembly, and they all approved the Bills before they were passed by the House. A certain section of the community is creating difficulties for their vested interest.”

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