The cabinet nod to the amended Meghalaya Resident’s Safety and Security Act recently has caused a flutter across the country. According to Deputy Chief Minister, Tynsong the Act is effective immediately as it was passed vide an Ordinance which will be ratified by the Assembly in its winter session. The present Act ostensibly gives more teeth to the earlier Act passed in 2016. While the old Act looked at registration of tenants so that there are records of every person working and living in Meghalaya, the present Act makes it mandatory for every visitor to Meghalaya to register himself/herself at the designated check gates. Under Section 4 (a) of the Act any visitor that seeks to remain in Meghalaya for over 24 hours must provide all information as per the proviso. Violation of this Act will lead to penal action under Sections 176 or 177 IPC.
The Act will not apply to state and central government employees and local authorities (?). The last one is undefined. Visitors to Meghalaya will have to apply for entry permission online. The question arises as to what happens to passengers bound for Silchar and Mizoram and transiting via Meghalaya. What if a passenger alights at a place in Meghalaya before Silchar? Does Government have the mechanism to even minutely monitor this movement of people when even simple policing suffers from several infirmities? Every new law legislated requires the police to implement it; often without any training. No wonder even the law against burning crackers before 8 pm and after 10 pm went largely unheeded. People literally cocked a snook at the police.
If matters of state are left to pressure and interest groups they would want to sanitize Meghalaya completely and prevent any non-Meghalayan from coming to the state. This poses the question: What happens to the much advertised Meghalaya Tourism? Do we see as many people travelling to ILP states like Nagaland or Mizoram as we do Meghalaya? What happens to the dozen of tour operators who have invested in new destinations? Did they have a say in the crafting of the above Act? Surely their views and not just that section of paranoia driven citizenry need to be taken on board. Why is the MDA Government cowering to insensible demands? At this rate governance will come to a standstill, even while different groups do backseat driving of the government? True there are apprehensions about the outcome of the Citizenship Amendment Bill should it be passed. But whether the MRSSA will actually address those problems is debatable. What the MRSSA would do is to cause a downslide in the economy as it is likely to affect tourism – Meghalaya’s unique selling point.