Issue on ILP
Eastern Panorama|January 2020
The inner line permit was created during the colonial rule of the British in 1873 in order to protect vulnerable tribal communities. It is essentially an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant Indian citizens permission for inward travel into a protected area for a limited period of time. It is mandatory for Indian citizens residing outside these areas to seek approval prior to entering these regions. However, there might be a different set of rules for long term visitors, though they are not valid for central government employees and security forces.
Janesha Bawri

Despite the fact that parts of the state of Meghalaya – the Khasi and the Jaintia hills – do fall under the jurisdiction of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, it is the only other tribal majority state in the region beyond the purview of the inner line. Meghalaya’s debarment was substantially because of its close association with Assam. Shillong, the state’s capital, was once the administrative epicentre of undivided Assam, which comprised large parts of the North East.

This saga of inner regulation remains long debated and disputed regarding the feasibility to stop the influx of immigrants into the state. In August 1998, a working group was constituted by the state government with Mr Paul Lyngdoh as its Secretary and Mr Donkupar Roy as the Chairman to recommend in-depth measures to effectively contain illegal immigration. As a result, the group strongly and unambiguously recommended ILP to be extended to Meghalaya.

The most insistent propulsion for a permit system in Meghalaya came in 2013, after the 2012 riots in Assam’s Bodoland. The violence was primarily directed at Muslim communities settled in the autonomous region of the Bodo Territorial Area Districts. Bodo groups have long claimed these lands as a part of their ethnic homeland.

The anger against “outsiders” spread to its neighbouring state Meghalaya in 2013 which eventually erupted in violent agitations for the Inner Line Permit system, however the centre stood resistant.

And with the tribal groups remaining adamant, the state government composed its own structure to keep a check on the movements happening in the state. It merged into the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016, which placed entry-exit points along the state’s internal border.

On the 1st of November 2019, the Meghalaya government passed an ordinance making registration on entry mandatory for visitors who wish to spend more than twenty-four hours in the state.

The ordinance will eventually become an amendment to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016, which was previously applicable only to tenants from outside the state. Under the act, “entry-exit points” would be set up along the border with Assam.

On the 5th of November 2019, a clarification was issued by the government stating: “As of now, the registration process has not begun, when it would, it would be simple: There will be no need to stand or wait in queues as you enter the state. Finally adding, Meghalaya welcomes all domestic and international travellers”.

At a press briefing Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong announced the ordinance, he further added that non-tribals who are permanent residents of the state, as well as central and state government employees, will not fall under the purview of this act.

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