The disagreement between the Centre and pro-ILP agitators in Manipur on the re-implementation of the ILP system has arisen largely due to the former`s refusal to look into the issue from the local perspective. The stiffness with which the Union government has stood against the demand could well be an influencing factor for uniformed citizens in other parts of India to easily misconstrue the ongoing campaign as a disturbance to national unity and communal harmony. Hence, the people of the state and the JCILPS in particular should spare some efforts in creating awareness that ILP system does not tantamount to the deprivation of Constitutional rights of other citizens of India. It is a just another security provision to regulate movement of outsiders which is of great significance in a state like Manipur due to the perilously small population of many of the indigenous tribes and gradually increasing influx of non-locals.
The Inner Line Permit is an official travel document issued by the Government to allow inward travel of Indian citizens into protected/restricted areas for a limited period. In states like Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, it is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain this permit from the check gates at the inter-state border. There is no undemocratic or unconstitutional tone assigned to the procedures being followed in those states.
It is the double standard policy of the Union Government to deny the system in Manipur while the need for its enforcement has been felt in our neighboring states. It will also be a total miscarriage of justice if the crusaders of the ILP system are recognized as racist or a threat to the other Indian. The risks posed by the burgeoning numbers of non-Manipuris to the pattern of land settlement and social make-up of Manipur as well as the anxiety caused to concerned citizens due to their rapidly rising population is legitimate as political repercussion of the existing situation is just a matter of time. The issues of invasion by illegal migrant have reached such magnitude that law enforcement was forced to carry out frequent drives for their identification. It was the activism of civil society organizations that helped in detection of bogus non-Manipuris in the electoral rolls and their involvement in fraudulent practices.
The right approach will be to treat the agitators for implementation of ILP system as responsible activists. Their campaigns have hardly been violent and caution to target only the unlawful migrants were observed. The Centre should engage the agitators in a fair discussion on the re-introduction of ILP system in Manipur.