Keep 'doubtful citizens' out of Meghalaya, say pressure groups

Shillong, June 6 (IANS) Meghalaya's powerful pressure groups Khasi Students' Union and Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People Thursday sought the implementation of the inner line permit (ILP) to keep "doubtful citizens" out of the state.

In view of suspected illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh into Meghalaya, moves are afoot to ensure that tabs are kept on even Indian citizens who enter the state.

The ILP is a document issued to Indian citizens undertaking travel to protected areas in some states. Only those in possession of such a document are allowed to travel to protected areas, for a specified period of time.

The system exists at present in parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

The call to implement the ILP in Meghalaya comes in the wake of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma admitting at Wednesday's meeting of chief ministers in Delhi that there was an influx of people with "doubtful citizenship" into Meghalaya.

"Now that Chief Minister (Mukul Sangma) himself has admitted the presence of doubtful citizens in the state, we strongly demand that the government implement the inner line permit recommended by the Lanong panel to regulate the inflow of outsiders into the state," KSU supremo Daniel Khyriem said.

The committee on influx, headed by Bindo M. Lanong, who at the time was deputy chief minister of the state, had recommended last year that the ILP system be recommended in the state to check the influx of illegal immigrants.

On Wednesday, Sangma, speaking at the conference of chief ministers on internal security, said: "Meghalaya has been facing the problem of influx of people with doubtful citizenship from the neighbouring states of Assam, Tripura and West Bengal."

Echoing the student body, the Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) urged the government to implement the inner line permit in this mountainous state at the earliest to protect the identity of the indigenous people.

"We are glad that the chief minister has admitted the presence of doubtful citizens in the state. Therefore, we strongly urge the government to implement the ILP in the state," FKJGP chief Joe Marwein said.

Stressing that the influx poses a threat to the demographic structure of the state, Sangma said the state government had created an anti-infiltration directorate to tackle the burgeoning influx problem more effectively.

"We have sanctioned 117 posts in the first phase and we are in the process of filling up the sanctioned posts. Another 206 posts will be sanctioned in the second phase in due course. In addition, district level teams and special police squads have also been constituted," the chief minister said.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced, and prone to frequent infiltration.

Sangma said Meghalaya has only 265 sanctioned posts of police officers and other staff under the Prevention of Infiltration (PIF) scheme, and about 125 Border Security Force border outposts to check infiltration from across the border with Bangladesh.

"Considering the length of the international border, the existing number of posts under the PIF scheme is highly inadequate to deal effectively with the illegal influx of foreign nationals," he said.

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