ILP meet fails, NGOs call bandh

NGOs adamant; it’s either ILP or nothing  lInflux a shared concern; Govt not enemy of people, says Mukul Sangma 

By Our Special Correspondence


SHILLONG: The much-awaited meeting between the NGOs (KSU, FKJGP, SSSS, HNYF, AJYWO, CSWO, JSU, GSU, JYF,KWWADA, ADE and RBYF) and the Government over implementation of ILP system in the State ended in a stalemate and the unhappy NGOs immediately called for a 12-hour bandh (5am to 5 pm) on Monday next.

The NGOs had come with an ultimatum that it should be Inner Line Permit (ILP) and nothing short of that. Government on the other hand was of the view that a better mechanism for controlling influx needs to be given a chance to prove its efficacy

Leading the discussion, spokesperson of the combined groups of NGOs, Joe Marwein, who is also President of the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), said that after much deliberation on the issue of influx, the NGOs were of the opinion that the ILP is the only effective instrument to curb influx and protect the indigenous tribals from social, political and economic exploitation.

As the meeting ended without any solution, NGOs came out of the conference room shouting slogans “No ILP No rest”, We want ILP” and Mukul Sangma “Down Down”

Marwein maintained that the NGOs would only talk if Government was open to discussing the ILP or else they would walk out of the talks table.

Countering this stiff position taken by the NGOs, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma said the discussion should take place around a framework where the views given to the High Level Committee chaired by former Deputy Chief Minister, BM Lanong would be minutely analysed to find out a better, more comprehensive solution to the influx problem.

Stating the only two political parties the HSPDP and KHNAM had made the ILP their election agenda, Dr Sangma said even the UDP never mentioned the ILP but spoke of an effective mechanism to counter influx. “The KHNAM does not have a single MLA and the HSPDP just a few. It shows that people by and large have rejected the ILP as a mechanism to solve the influx issue,” Dr Sangma observed.

“The Congress party promised the people a development agenda and stated upfront that we would address the influx issue. We never promised the ILP. The fact that we were voted to a near majority shows that people had faith in us. We must respect the views of people in the spirit of democracy,” Dr Sangma added.

Earlier, the Chief Minister cited statistics to show that the non-tribal population has actually declined from 1971 to 2011 while the tribal population has increased. The tribal population stood at 80.48% (1971), 80.58% (1981), 85.53% (1991) 85.94% (2001) 86.15% (2011). Stating that in states which implemented ILP, namely Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh the tribal population has dwindled, Dr Sangma attributed this to the large scale exodus of tribal young men and women to other states and mainly to New Delhi.

“The dwindling economic opportunities in Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, has compelled youth and even adults to migrate away from their states. We need to take note of this while calling for an instrument like ILP to address the issue of influx,” Dr Sangma stated.

Asserting that his Government has for the first time put in place a series of mechanisms to check influx, Dr Sangma said that the Directorate of Infiltration has been set up and 117 personnel will be posted soon. Added to this is the appointment of 39 Labour Inspectors in each of the Blocks. “We will have to allow these mechanisms to take shape before giving ultimatums to the Government.”

The Chief Minister also informed that the State Government under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary has set up a high level committee to come up with strong laws to regulate the tenancy system. Pointing to the need for citizens to be registered under the National Population Register, Dr Sangma said this is the only mechanism for an Indian citizen to establish to establish his bona-fide.

Appealing to the NGOs not to stonewall further discussions Dr Sangma said the Government represents the will of the people and is receptive to positive suggestions and recommendations hence it is not a good sign for NGOs to adopt a confrontational attitude.

Bandh call: Meanwhile, as the meeting with the Chief Minister ended in a stalemate, the NGOs met at Jaiaw to decide their future course of action.

The decision to call for a 12-hour bandh was taken in the meeting.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, KSU president Daniel Khyriem said the NGOs were firm on their demand (implementation of ILP) to safeguard the indigenous community from the onslaught of illegal migrants.

“Mukul Sangma has made a joke of the High Level Committee recommendations which was constituted by Government itself,” Khyriem said.

FKJGP president Joe Marwein said that ILP is the only hands-on solution to curb large scale influx into the state, while stressing that the NGOs do want any assurances but implementation of ILP in the state.

The NGOs have threatened to intensify their agitations if the Government does not bow down to their demands and they would soon sit for a meeting to devise their future course of action.

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