Normal life came to a standstill in Meghalaya Friday during a 12-hour shutdown called by as many as ten organisations demanding the introduction of the inner line permit (ILP) system to regulate movement to certain areas in the state which are located near the international border.
Almost all the government offices situated in the 11 district headquarters, including financial and educational institutions, remained closed.
National Highways 40 and 44, the lifelines for Mizoram, Tripura and parts of Manipur and southern Assam, were also affected by the shutdown.
“Attendance in all government offices was very poor,” principal secretary in-charge (Home) K.S. Kropha told IANS.
The ten organisations that have called the shutdown include the Khasi Students’ Union, the Federation of Khasi, Jaintia, Garo People and the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front.
They are demanding the introduction of the inner line permit (ILP) system the absence of which, they say would lead to the number of people entering Meghalaya getting out of control, given the state’s proximity to Bangladesh and Assam.
Inner Line Permit is an official travel document issued by the union government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain permit for entering into the restricted areas.
However, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has ruled out implementation of the British-era inner line permit (ILP) system to check illegal migrants from Bangladesh, but promised strict laws to curb infiltration of illegal immigrants.
“The state government will implement the Tenancy Act, to help us address the influx problem. The draft Tenancy Act will be completed soon and stakeholders will be invited for their suggestions and opinions on the matter,” Sangma said.
“It (inner line permit [ILP] system) is something which can’t be implemented by the state government. The matter lies with the union government,” he said, ruling out talks with the ten organisations.
But the organisations said they would intensify their agitation till the government implements the ILP system.
“The implementation of the ILP would help protect the tribal population from being ‘annihilated’ in their own land,” Joe Marwein, spokesperson of the agitating organisations, said.