By Dr. Khomdon Lisam
Now all sections of people except the hill people are demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit System ( Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation -1873 ) in Manipur. One such permit system was implemented in Manipur during 1901 to 1950 to control entry of Non-Manipuris from outside the state. This Permit system was brought under the Foreigners Department on 1 November, 1931. Such a permit system ensures identification, detection, registration and control of illegal immigration in Manipur. In 1948, the Government of India had officially approved retention of the permit system in Manipur vide Mr. G.E.D Walker, Advisor to the Governor of Assam letter no .120/47/C- 26-27 dated 17th January, 1948. This Permit system was abolished by Mr. Himmat Singh , the then Chief Commissioner of Manipur on 18 November, 1950 allowing free entry, unchecked influx of outsiders from other states leading to unprecedented increase of migrant population in Manipur.
Magnitude of the problem : One strategy of the Government of India is to prevent the people of North East states from being united by inciting one ethnic gtoup with another through ethnicity, religion, political parties and corruption. Another strategy is population invasion – a population war without arms. This will replace the indigenous population of North East India with Mongoloid features with the mainland Indians of Aryan blood in the name of secularism and democracy over a period of 60 -65 years and reduce the indigenous population to a microscopic minority and build an united India of the same Aryan blood .There is already demographic Imbalance and threat to Manipur’s identity. The uncontrolled and unchecked immigration posed a great threat to the national security, .demographic balance with the prospect of the outsiders becoming a majority community reducing the majority indigenous communities like the Meities and Tribals to minority in our own home land. According to 2001 Census, the population of outside migrants in Manipur was 707,488 as against the Meitei population of 751822 tribal population of 670,782 as per Census-2001 report (UCM) There is a sense of helplessness, anxiety and tension among the Manipuris fearing that the Meitei identity or tribal identity or Muslim identity are under threat. The situation after arrival of Train connection will be alarming. The incidence of local girls marrying to outside migrants is increasing every year. The migrants particularly the Muslims are not using family planning methods for birth control although the indigenous population are practicing family planning methods leading to population imbalance. The migrants are indulging in illegal drug trafficking or any other crime for earning quick money .
Why is the population of Immigrants increasing by leaves and bound in Manipur
1. Political Support and Vote Banks: The political leaders are entirely responsible for fast increase of migrant population in Manipur . Many of our Political Leaders in Manipur use the immigrants as vote banks. I have personally seen some ministers dancing with lean and thin ugly looking immigrants in their own constituencies. They supported and facilitate the immigrants in getting ration cards, BPL cards, driving licence, Voter ID, Birth certificate etc. They even help them in purchasing land or shops. The Jiribam subdivision under Shri Devendra Singh’s constituency is an excellent example. He must be given the title “ Father of Foreigners of Manipur”. There are many MLAs and Ex-MLAs ( both Hills and Valley) whom people want to give this title. They must be boycotted by the people declaring them as the “ Enemy of the state” .. They have lost the love, trust and respect of the people.
2. Many Bangladeshis / Nepalese came to Manipur with ration cards, driving licence, birth certificates issued by the Government of Assam. Assam is now called : the “Exporter of Foreigners”. So our security system can not identify them as foreigners. It is also reported that the same practice is being carried in Manipur also.
3. Support by the Manipur Police. Manipur Police is overprotective to the migrants. If there is a quarrel or violence involving outsiders at the Khwairamband Bazar, our Manipur Police immediately appeared out of nowhere and arrested the Manipuris whether right or wrong. They allowed themselves to be used by outsiders, which is one lesson the Delhi Police should learnt from Manipur Police.
4. Manipuris’ aversion to manual work . In general, Manipuris especially Meiteis do not want to work as domestic helpers, rickshaw pullers, Thella pullers , cobblers, barbers, garbage collectors, mason. Plumbers etc. Jobs that are generally unattractive to the natives were being taken up by the immigrants. So there is always a vacuum , which can be filled by migrant workers at cheaper rate. When the BRO or any outside contractors come to work in Manipur, they bring hundreds of labourers . These labourers never return to their home states even after completion of the specific task.
5. Easy availability of jobs and better economic prospects are the key factors which attract immigrants to Manipur . Migrants are more hard working . They do not enjoy Sundays and Holidays where our local workers are enjoying not only Sundays and Holidays but also all festivals, Utsop, Marriages, Swaradhas making themselves undependable and unreliable. Since the migrants also charge less, local contractors also prefer to employ them. Such scenarios pave the way for large-scale immigration. Moreover, the Manipuris are becoming increasingly dependent on the immigrants.
6. Absence of any law for regulation of internal migrants in Manipur
7. In-effective implementation of Foreigners Act -1946
8. Faulty Manipur Land Revenue Act-1960 – putting no bar on purchasing land by outsiders or immigrants What Manipur requires today is the Uniform Land Laws for all ethnic groups. The immigrants should not be allowed to purchase land without Government permission.
9. No system of work permit. A special Temporary Work permit for the specific trade should be issued on payment of certain fees in addition to the registration fees. This should be renewed every year on payment of certain fees.
10. No bar on outsiders marrying local girls. The number of women marrying outsiders is increasing nowadays. The immigrants come with an intension to marry local girls to secure social sanction and establish himself by buying land , constructing houses and getting white colour jobs. We should debate on whether the Manipur Government should discourage Manipuri women marrying outsiders. These women shall not be allowed to inherit ancestral land property or buy land properties in their names .
11. Absence of Family Planning among the Immigrants resulting to rapid increase of migrant population. Two child norm should be strictly enforced . The State Government should move the Government of India to amend the National Family Planning Policy to impose certain taxes for violating the two child norm to prevent population balance.
Where is it implemented: -The ILP is required for Indian citizens to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. It is issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. But this is not meant only for tribal. It was implemented in many non -tribal areas like Darrang, Nowgong , Cachar, Sibsagar.
Lessons from Nagaland :
Nagaland is one state where the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 ( Inner Line Permit System is implemented from the days of Naga Hills. We can ask “ Is Nagaland facing the problem of illegal migration. Thuingaleng Muivah, the general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-(NSCN-IM), estimated two lakh Bangladeshis in the Dimapur area alone. On July 10, 2009, Nagaland Home Minister Imkong Inchen stated on the floor of the State Assembly in Kohima that a total of 75,807 ILPs were issued in 2008-09, and the total amount collected was Rs 2,024,690. In 2007-08, the number of permits issued was 76,268, with the total amount collected being Rs. 2,157,345. However, he admitted that the state did not have any mechanism to check if people coming in through this permit ever left the state or not. An overwhelming majority of the intelligentsia (94.28 per cent) in Nagaland felt that the ILP had not been effective at all.
In 2003, the Nagaland Government estimated approximately one lakh illegal immigrants who had settled in the foothills of the state bordering Assam. Based on this estimates, we can assume there are at least 1 lakh illegal immigrants in the state.
In 2003, the Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, publicly acknowledged Assam as being the ‘exporter’ of illegal immigrants to Nagaland. The Telegraph, a Kolkata-based daily newspaper, also reported that certain officials of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation were issuing birth certificates for a paltry sum of Rs 200. Terming the report an ‘eye opener’, Rio alleged that such rackets were endangering the entire North-East.
The Immigrants come with an intention to marry local girls to settle himself . A new generation of Sumias has appeared in Nagaland : “The children of the immigrants, who marry local girls, are often referred to as ‘Sumias’ … These children are also confused about the religion they should adopt. In most cases, they are given Naga names. So, they cannot be detected by the authorities concerned. When they apply for opportunities like jobs, which are meant only for the indigenous people of Nagaland , they are facing problems. Unfortunately, the emergence of ‘Sumias’ is a sensitive and hotly debated issue across the state.
Dimapur had the largest non-Naga workforce of 32,700 persons followed by Kohima (10,900) and Mokokchung (2,215). The survey covered 78 different trades ranging from agriculture, trading and manufacturing to the service sector. The annual income of non-Nagas in Dimapur was the highest at Rs 351.85 crore followed by Kohima at Rs 89.98 crore and Mokokchung at Rs 8.77 crore. The construction sector had the highest. More than 50% of this income goes to their own states
Now all sections of the Manipur people are increasingly getting worried that unabated immigration will become a major economic, demographic and political problem. Their apprehension is that this may lead to loss of land and damage to Meiteis and tribal cultural identity.
Experience of other states and other countries.
The 1961 census estimated that approximately 750,000 East Pakistanis had migrated into Assam between 1951 and 1961. The biggest problem of Assam is now the foreigners issue thanks to the wisdom of Jawaharlal Nehru. In Tripura , the percentage of the indigenous population is 93 % of the entire population in 1947. By 2001, it has been reduced to 22%. The percentage of indigenous population of Andaman and Nicobar Islands declined from 100% at the time of arrival of British in 1867 to nearly extinct by 2011. They have lost their lands, language, custom, tradition. In India, there is policy and law to protect the tiger and other animal but there is no policy or law to save the vanishing tribes. The Government of India had forgotten the existence of indigenous population in Andaman and Nicobar Islands for along time. They used to conduct punitive expeditions to wipe out the indigenous population during 19th and early 20th century. USA is known as a Nation of Immigrants . When Christopher Columbus arrived in America on 12 Oct , 1492 , they were amazed to see the lives of native Americans who enjoy freedom with abundant nourishment without laws, without police and without religion . The percentage of native Americans had declined from 100% in 1492 to about 0.8% by 2006.The aboriginal population from the arrival of Christopher Columbus on 12 October, 1492 has declined from 100% to 0.8% by 2006. The aboriginal population of Australia from the time of arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in January 1788 A.D has declined from 100% to around 2.5% by 2008. There are many examples from different countries of the world.
Stand of the JCILP :
On 30th June, 2006, FREINDS had submitted a memorandum to the State Government for introduction of Inner Line Permit in Manipur. Later on. the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILP), Manipur had submitted a memorandum to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India vide letter No1909/ILP/2012-FREINDS dated, the 19th October, 2012 . A delegation of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System, Manipur met the Union Home Minister on 23rd November, 2012 and urged him to initiate action in this regard. According to JCILP, “We are welcoming tourists, students, labourers, businessmen to come to Manipur . But they will be required to have a pass by paying nominal fees for their identification, verification. They will not be allowed to purchase land without the concurrence of the state government. This is required for protecting the identity , culture, lands, language and script of the indigenous people of Manipur”.
Initiatives of the Manipur Government
The Manipur State Cabinet has taken a decision on 12th July, 2012 to adopt the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation , 1873 in Manipur . On 13th July, 2012, the Manipur State Assembly had also taken a resolution to implement the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation , 1873 ( Inner Line Permit System ) in Manipur . The copy of the resolution was submitted to the Union Home , Minister , Government of India on 3rd August, 2012. The Manipur State Assembly has taken the resolution to adopt the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation , 1873 two times .
On 16th January, 2013, a delegation of All Political Parties of Manipur under leadership of Shri O. Ibobi Singh, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur met the Union Home Minister , New Delhi. The Union Home Minister has assured again to the delegates that the plan of implementing the Inner Line Permit System in Manipur will be translated into action very soon.
What the Manipur Government needs to do now
This is matter of great importance. and great consequences. The main objective of demanding the Inner Line Permit in Manipur is that the outsiders / migrants should not be allowed to purchase lands without the concurrence of the State Government .
The following suggestions / options maybe considered :-
1. The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation , 1873 is not yet repealed and being implemented in three states . So the Government of India has the authority and competence to issue an administrative order that the same regulation is being implemented in Manipur.
2. If Government of India is not willing to do citing the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution , we can say that “the Manipuris are minority among minorities In India . The whole population of Manipur constitute hardly 0.2 % of the total population of India . We do not want to become minority in our home land , If you are not willing , the Chief Minister , his MLAs and the people of Manipur will sit in Dharna in front of Prime Minister’s office as done by Arvind Kejrwal when he was the Chief Minister of Delhi. The Indian Constitution does not forbid the Chief Minister sitting in Dharna. If they are reluctant , we will adopt what Br.R Ambedkar has said in Rajya Sabha one 2 September 1953
3. If the Government of India say that the said regulation is too old, we need a new law which is to be passed by the Indian Parliament, then we can mutually set a target date for considering amendment of Indian Constitution. During the last 65 years, we never ask for constitution amendment. No Manipuri took part in the Constitutional debate. The Indian Constitution was imposed on us after forceful merger to India. The Indian Constitution is found extremely discriminatory and harmful to Manipur. It becomes the source of all ethnic conflicts , disunity and disharmony among the ethnic groups of Manipur. The Inner Line permit system should not be the only reason for amendment of Indian Constitution. There are many pressing and burning issues which needs to be considered for amendment of Indian Constitution.. We want to propose for constitutional amendment in the following areas :-
3.1 The whole state of Manipur should be declared as a Hill State
3.2 All the ethnic groups in Manipur may be brought under one uniform Land Law
3.3 The Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply to Manipur to protect the 2000 year old territorial integrity of Manipur
3.4. Inner Line Permit System should be introduced to protect the rights, identity, customs, culture, traditions, religion, land, language, script, mineral resources of indigenous people of Manipur .
3.5. The Representation of People Act-1951 should be amended to ensure equal representation of States in the Rajya Sabha as done in case of many democratic countries. The number of Rajya Sabha seats for Manipur should be increased to five.
3.6. The number of Lok Sabha seats should be made viable by increasing the number of seats to six since the Anglo Indians which has a population of hardly 350,000 were given two Lok Sabha seats. Even if Shri Krishna becomes Manipur MP, he will not be able to become Prime Minister of India under the existing system.
3.7. The Meiteis should be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes to restore the equality among all ethnic groups of Manipur.
4. If the Government of India is still reluctant, then the Manipur State Assembly under leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister may consider amendment of the Manipur Land Revenue Act-1960 to bring an uniform land laws for all ethnic groups in Manipur. No migrant should be allowed to purchase land without permission of the State Government . No Manipuri women marrying outsiders should be allowed to inherit land properties and should not be allowed to purchase land in her name .
5. The Manipur State Government should implement the existing Foreigners Act-1946 vigorously .People encroaching in the reserved forest and other areas should be evicted .
6. The Manipur State Government should introduce a system of Work Permit according o the trade of the migrant worker with specific fees , renewable every year in addition to the registration.
7. The Manipur State Assembly under leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister may consider enacting a new legislation for regularisation of entry of migrants from outside Manipur incorporating all the essential provisions cited above.
8. The Government of Manipur should verify the electoral rolls and cancel all the names of foreigners who enter Manipur after 1980 as per agreement with the All Manipur Students Union(AMSU)
9. All the departments responsible for issue of ration cads, BPL cards, Electoral roll or Voter ID, , driving licence should be trained and alerted.
10. The Government of Manipur should move the Government of India to amend the existing Family Planning Policy to enforce two child norm for all communities.