KOHIMA, Oct 6 (IANS): The Inner Line Permit (ILP) required by outsiders to enter Nagaland and some other northeastern states has not been successful in tackling the influx of migrants or illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, says Chief Minister T.R.Zeliang. And Assam also bears responsibility for the problem, he adds.
"We cannot say it (ILP) is successful in implementation because the validity of the ILP is purely meant for tourists and those who come and visit Nagaland for a short period," Zeliang told IANS in an interview.
"What about those migrant labourers engaged in building or road construction in remote areas? They (labourers) cannot come back for renewal after a gap of 15 days. So they remain there for months and years together. Therefore, as far as the implementation part of ILP... we cannot say that it is successful," he contended.
Zeliang's stand assumes significance in the wake of the growing demands of civil society groups in neighbouring Manipur and even in Meghalaya by Hynniewtrep Youth Council, a splinter group of influential student body Khasi Student's Union demanding implementation of the British-era law to tackle the burgeoning influx and illegal migrants in these frontier states.
The permit system, which is still in force in Nagaland as well as Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, derives from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, and entails issuance of official travel documents issued by the central government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period.
The ILP, a British era regulation designed to preserve ethnicity and culture of the northeastern tribals, required all Indian citizens not usually residents of the area to secure a special permit for entering the border states and regions of the northeast.
Zeliang blamed the neighbouring state of Assam for the flow of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants into other northeastern states.
"We have to blame Assam for the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. They come through Assam only," said the Nagaland chief minister.
"In all the disputed areas with its (Assam's) neighbouring states (Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram), adivasis (tribals) and Bangladeshi people are pumped in; there is no Assamese, no real Ahom people living in those disputed areas. Only Adivasis and Bangadeshis are there and that means it is through these places these illegal immigrants used to come to Nagaland as well," he contended.
"If Assam is strict (in tackling the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants issue), then the gateway is closed. Therefore, the Assam government should be more serious in this," Zeliang asserted.