Union Home Minister Amit Shah did not provide any promises to the State’s pressure groups on their requests to implement the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya, nor did he discuss the matter, while listening to the leaders of the organisations leading the permit demand in the State.
Representatives of numerous pressure groups who met with the Union Home Minister expressed dissatisfaction, claiming that Shah did not mention anything against ILP.
“Today the Union Home Minister simply listened to what we said, our aspiration as leaders of pressure groups and of the people of the State as a whole. But there was no assurance or commitment on the issue of ILP,” Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) president Lambokstarwell Marngar said.
ILP is a British-era law aimed at preserving the ethnicity and culture of Northeastern tribals. To protect the ethnicity and culture of the north eastern tribals, the law required all Indian citizens who were not normally inhabitants of the area to get a special permit before visiting the border states and areas of the northeast.
The permit system is still in place in Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur.
The KSU president called the Union Home Minister’s silence on the issue of ILP “insulting” to the people of the state, noting that it had been more than a year since the Meghalaya Assembly passed a unanimous resolution requesting the Centre to implement ILP in the state, but the people had yet to receive an answer on what the Government of India’s position was on the issue.
“We wanted to only know what’s the stand of the Centre on the ILP but that too he could not answer,” Marngar said that the pressure groups will meet in the coming days to plan their next line of action.
“We understand that we are in the midst of a pandemic. But there’s another virus afflicting our indigenous society. We will have to find a cure ourselves from now on,” he asserted.
Wellbirth Rani, head of the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), stated that this was the third time they met with Union Home Minister on the same subject, but to no result.
“In this third meeting we had expected that he will assure us something. But till today we are not satisfied and happy with the outcome of the meeting,” Rani added.
The pressure groups also brought up the long-pending boundary issue with Assam, as well as the adoption of the Khasi language in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule.
When Shah met with the State Cabinet Minister, Hamletson Dohling, Cabinet Minister and Mylliem lawmaker, raised the subject of ILP.
He reminded the Union Home Minister that no prior administration had given the people of the state the chance to raise the matter at the national level.
“This is the only government that gave us a chance to raise the issue of ILP with the Government of India,” he said, even as he expressed hope their demands would be responded to “in a positive manner”.