State committed to ILP, denies Delhi’s reluctance

Our Bureau

NEWDELHI/SHILLONG: With media reports doing the rounds about the Centre not keen to implement ILP in Meghalaya, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said that there is no truth in it.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, Tynsong said on Saturday, “Yes, I am aware about the media speculation but there is no truth in it. It is an imagination and rumour.”
Tynsong asserted that the state is committed to implementing ILP and added that the Centre has not given any official statement regarding the matter.
An official source added that the state delegation will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the new year to pursue the matter as the resolution was sent to Delhi only on December 23.
“Not a single meeting was held between the state delegation and the Centre and hence we cannot come to any conclusion,” he said.
With the fate of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act hanging in balance in the apex court, the Centre is most likely to include whole of Meghalaya under the Sixth Schedule rather than declaring Inner Line Permit for the hill state whose capital Shillong is considered as a gateway and happening city.
Talking on condition of confidentiality, sources in the Home Ministry said that accepting the state government’s unanimous proposal to implement ILP will cause more harm to the state than good. The state, especially Shillong, is considered as a gateway and get-together place for many national and international events after Guwahati, and ILP will be a disabling factor rather than an enabling feature, it added.
When pointed out about Manipur where the Centre has declared ILP without any hesitation, the sources said that Manipur is not the gateway to Southeast or South Asia. Recently, Meghalaya has seen increasing cooperation with neighbouring Bangladesh and has attracted more tourists than the ILP states.
Tourism industry will be hit hard in Meghalaya and so also its educational hubs like IIM and NIT, it added.
The sources also made it clear that ILP would not be implemented in Assam which is a major state and the main gateway not only to the region but also the neighbouring countries.
If ILP is introduced in Assam or Meghalaya, all the NE states including the two states themselves will face huge problem. Any person from any of these states to go to the mainland will need ILP which is not feasible, it pointed out.
But introducing ILP even in Meghalaya will create problem since the state is also used as a passage to the Barak valley.
Meanwhile, the Centre is also waiting for the decision in the Supreme Court next month where the Act has been challenged.
A shock defeat in tribal Jharkhand, besides the court case, street protests and international outcry, has also forced the BJP to think on the Act twice. The verdict has emboldened the opposition parties to take on once invincible BJP on this controversial act.
But the state government and the civil societies feel Sixth Schedule provisions alone will not be adequate to protect and safeguard the interests of the tribal population of the state.
But implementing ILP will create more hurdles than any meaningful benefits to the state, the Centre feels.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who headed a high level MDA delegation, had met the Union Home Minister and raised the demand for the inclusion of Meghalaya in ILP. But Shah had asked the delegation to meet him again after Christmas to discuss the issue further. Even after the meeting, some leaders were preferring Sixth Schedule to ILP but considering the public mood they demanded for the latter.
The Shillong Times is in possession of a letter of an important MDA partner, who submitted the party’s view for Sixth Schedule even though publicly they were demanding ILP in Meghalaya.
If implemented, Meghalaya will become the fifth India state to have ILP after Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Manipur. Under the ILP, anyone from outside the state will be required to take a permit from the concerned state to visit there or to stay there.
Like a visa, ILP is issued for a specific period and outsiders cannot live in these states after that period. The resistance by local BJP leadership and allies were so strong that Shah had to assure them that CAA won’t be applicable in areas under ILP.
Interestingly, all the three Members of Parliament from Meghalaya- Agatha Sangma of NPP, Vincent H Pala and Wansuk Syiem of the Congress in their speeches or mentions were on record for including the remaining three percent of Shillong city under Sixth Schedule. But now under public pressure, they have remained tight lipped.

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