House passes Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill 2015 even as five opposition MLAs stage walkout

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IMPHAL, March 16: Amid the 18-hour general strike imposed by the JCILPS in the State against the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill 2015 which it says does not meet their demand, the Bill was nonetheless passed amidst little opposition on the last day of the 10th session of the 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly, today.

Meanwhile five opposition MLAs, four from Trinamool Congress, namely, Th Shyamkumar, K Sarat, Dr I Ibohalbi and Kh Joykisan together with one NPF MLA Samuel Risom walked out from the House even as the Bill was being passed by the House. They however were present for the discussions.

Discussing the Bill, L Ibomcha said the word `migrant`™ has been remove from the Bill and there ought not to have been any worry on this as there are also eight separate laws in Labour Department dealing precisely with `migrants`™.

He said there is a lack of closer examination of the clauses, and said this is not an aggression on outsiders. He also said if the Bill is found to have missing or mistaken points, it should be rectified.

Dr Ibohalbi also said that if the Bill is it found different in any way from the one recommended by the All Political Party Committee which examined the issue for five months and also took experts opinion, this too can be rectified later.

He said that ILP was demand by the JCILPS alarmed by the figure of population influx and the threat migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Bangladesh etc posed to the local population. The intent is to bring in a mechanism to regulate population influx and to keep a tab on the length of the intended stay of the migrants in the state.

He noted that the Bill is confusing in some parts. He suggested these ambiguities can be referred back to the selected committee for rectification but and the Bill after these correction can be pass unanimously in next Assembly.

Th Shyamkumar said that Bill is totally in variance from the one which the people want. He said this being the case, it should not be passed immediately for it is found wanting, it can cause other big problems in the future.

He also expressed the opinion that the Bill should be referred back to the selected committee, otherwise it can be the cause of big disappointments in the future.

Kh Joykisan questioned if the draft Bill is not similar to the introduce Bill what was the meaning of constituting the All Political Party Committee on the implementation of ILP led by Home Minister Gaikhangam, in the first place.

Y Irabot gave suggested the Bill is important as it addresses the concern of increasing population influx into the state from 1878 till today. Briefly summarising the circumstance of the demand for the Bill, he said this population influx is now threatening to marginalise indigenous populations of Manipur therefore the need for the ILP issue was raise in the State.

He said the protection under the Bill can be predicated to the declaration of protected areas of any particular area. This would be like the AFSPA which can be imposed only at place declared as disturbed area.

He said migrant issue has become an issue because of politicians who encouraged migrant populations to enter the state for political gains. This is especially so at Jiribam where today 60 percent of the total population are outsiders.

He said Meghalaya has had to have an amendment of land law because ILP is not vogue in the state. This land law prohibits of land in Meghalaya to be bought by outsiders.

He suggested Manipur to follow suit and think of a land law similar to that of Meghalaya and thereby protect the indigenous population from marginalisation.

Under Article 13 (III) of the Constitution, states can enact law to regulate migrants and therefore such a law will not have to wait for the assent of the Centre.

Replying to the questions by the member of House, the Chief Minister and leaders of the House, Okram Ibobi Singh, said this Bill touches all the recommendations of the All Political Parties`™ Committee. He also said almost 50 to 75 percent of the demands of the JCILPS`™ demands are also included.

He further said that the discussions can a lot of time and if there are no serious objections, the Bill should be passed. If the House fails to do this, he said the people of Manipur will alleged that government is playing delaying tactics on the question of ILP implementation.

However said if the Bill is founds to be not practical, the House can consider amendments in further sessions, Ibobi said.

He said most of the demands of the JCILPS are included except for the demand for the cut off year of 1951 to decide on who is a migrant. He said deciding 1951 as the base year is not in the purview of state government but under the central government.

On the question of prohibiting land transfers to non-indigenous populations, the matter needs more deliberations, he said.

Later, he appealed to the House to pass the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill 2015 unanimously by the House.

As the Speaker was processing the passing of the bill, the five opposition MLAs staged the walk out from the Houses.

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