Shillong: Amid the news of Union home minister Amit Shah’s proposed visit to Shillong in the second week of July, pressure groups in Meghalaya are hopeful that they would be able to push for the implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the state.
Implemented under the British-era Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, the ILP is an official travel document that allows an Indian citizen to enter a protected area for a limited period. The Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (CoMSO) and other pressure groups in Meghalaya have been demanding implementation of ILP ever since the Congress-led government rejected the demand in 2013 and instead passed the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) in 2016.
Besides CoMSO, pressure groups like Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi-Jaintia Garo People (FKJGP), Ri-Bhoi Youth Front (RBYF) and Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) have been eagerly waiting for Shah to make his second visit to the state.
On January 23 this year, Shah had visited Shillong to chair the 69th plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC).
The pressure groups had then met the Union home minister to demand the implementation of ILP, among other issues.
However, Shah could only spare a few moments which had left the local bodies upset. Shah had then promised that be would soon make a visit to the state and give them time to hear the issues and demands of the local organisations.
CoMSO chairman Robertjune Kharjahrin said they have been waiting for a long time to meet Shah and other top leaders of the Centre over the issue.
“It has been the aspiration of the indigenous people of the state and it has been our demand for a long time. We believe that if Shah comes to Shillong he will give us time. Not only us, he can also meet the traditional institutions and also hold an all-party meeting,” said Kharjahrin.
Adding that if Shah can do so, they are ready to impress upon him on the need to implement ILP in the state. “It has been a genuine public demand and the aspirations of the state to protect the democratic structure of the state. We believe that this time, just like he listened to the voices of the people in Manipur, he will also listen to the people of Meghalaya,” said Kharjahrin.
He said that the people of Meghalaya, through pressure groups, have convinced the legislature to pass a resolution over ILP. So, this in itself has given a strong message to the government of India.
“If you see lakhs of people coming out to the streets, that in itself is a right strategy. But what we need to do is to remain united and refrain from politicising the issue. The moment we do that, I think there won’t be any better strategy than being yourself,” said Kharjahrin.
The chairman of CoMSO also urged the elders and bureaucrats to come forward and give their feedback and suggestions.
Meanwhile, HNYF president Sadon Blah said that the youth body, along with KSU, FKJGP and RBYF, has been pursuing the matter since 2013.
“We met the Central government twice over the issue. We were also there when Shah visited Shillong last time. So, when we heard the news that he will be visiting Shillong again, we are hoping that he will come with the agenda of ILP implementation,” said Blah.
During Shah’s last visit in January, due to time constraint, no discussions could be held with the pressure groups.
On December 19, 2019, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly passed the ILP resolution. However, it is waiting for the Central government to give its nod to implement ILP in the state.