Overwhelm by a telephonic call with Union Home Minister Amit Shah who assured ILPS for the state of Manipur, Chief Minister N. Biren took no time to appeal his party karyakartas and spread the message. He even directed the State Home Department to issue notification to celebrate the big announcement made by Amit Shah. Unfortunately, when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled in the Lok Sabha today and was introduced with 293 votes, nothing has been mentioned about the state of Manipur during this whole process. Home Minister justified the bill saying that it is neither against the constitution of India nor does it mention any religion while facing the roar by opposition MPs who termed it as ‘anti-constitutional’ or ‘anti-secularism’. If the assurance given to Chief Minister N. Biren Singh for extension or introduction of ILPS in Manipur by Home Minister Amit Shah as a counter measures from the impact of CAB comes to fruit, it is not only the Chief Minister or the BJP Karyakarta that will applause the Union Government but people across the state will be ready to garland them. It is not because people accept ILPS as a tool to protect the people of Manipur from the impact of CAB. But the appreciation would come for the concern that these central leaders have for this state. This, at least, everyone is clear. However, in this dire time something is always better than nothing. Though, this something is not the provision that protects the people of Manipur wholly.
Now that CAB is introduced, there will be more discussion and readings coming on this bill in the parliament. Therefore, at this crucial juncture there should be intervention from MPs from Manipur to amend the bill so that some protective mechanism comes to light. One way out is to produce the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 in parliament and be extended to the state of Manipur. We should also remember that this has been discussed and passed twice in Manipur State Assembly and now the matter must go to the parliament. Only then there is a possibility of things working out, though limited in nature. However, there should be no confusion on this matter on how to go about this matter. There cannot be any short cut to this. The matter must go the parliament. It cannot be done through a mere executive order. Otherwise, any other attempt will be null and void.
ILPS does not entail the protection of indigenous people of Manipur from the impact of CAB. In order to understand this, we just need to look at the situation of Nagaland which has special protection under Article 371(a), is a tribal state and at the same time ILPS is enforced over there. 2011 census data reveals that there are 75000 Bengalis, 63000 Biharis, 44,000 Nepalis alone in Nagaland. Most importantly, economy of Kohima, Dimapur and Makokchung are controlled by the outsiders. Coming to Mizoram with its protective provisions, there are 108000 Bengalis and around 11000 Biharis and Marwaris. In Arunachal Pradesh the situation is similar, the total population of Bengalis is 100600 and around 93000 Marwaris and Biharis live there. In Meghalaya, 233000 Bengalis live and in Tripura the situation is dire, as 24 lakh Bengalis have settled there. Given this, the stand of NESO and MANPAC is correct when they oppose CAB in totality. No provision can protected wholly the state of Manipur. With this, the future of people of Manipur is grim with this bill being introduced in the parliament.