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Row over ILPS base year

by Rinku Khumukcham
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The decision of the state cabinet to adopt 1961 as the base year for the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) being enforced in the state since January 1, 2020, has sparked protest from various sections of the people including the CSOs demanding implementation of the ILPS in the state.
Since the ILPS came into effect in the state of Manipur, there has been much debate about the regulation, some calling it a ‘toothless Tiger’, as the guidelines in the regulation have no effective clauses for the protection of the indigenous people. At the time when the state government framed guidelines and regulations for the implementation of the ILPS, there was no definition of the people of Manipur or the indigenous people of Manipur and thus have no base year on who should be the real people of Manipur. It is obvious that when regulation like the ILPS is implemented, it needs certain clauses which will have to define who are the indigenous people or the people of the state. The Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCIPS) which has been spearheading for implementation of effective regulations like the Bengal Eastern frontier regulations 1873, has been demanding a concrete definition of the ‘people of Manipur’ or the ‘indigenous’ people of the Manipur, as, without such, ILPS is meaningless. The main purpose of the demand of ILPS is to protect and preserve the indigenous people, their culture, and their traditions. If there are no provisions that define the ‘people of Manipur’ then the purpose of ILPS is meaningless.
By discussing this issue and taking a decision to regulate a base year by the state cabinet, the N. Biren Singh administration showed that it does listen to the voice of the people. The spirit needs to be appreciated, however, if the supposedly good intentions, put the ball in the frying pan, then it is natural that, those taking the responsibility faced the music. Well, the people of Manipur had witnessed mass protest at a time when the state government introduced 3 Bills that had clauses that define the indigenous people keeping the base year 1951. Many lives had been lost in the protest in the Churachandpur district. Perhaps the N. Biren Singh administration has apprehension of a similar uproar had his government adopted 1952 as the base year for the ILPS. This may be the reason for the state cabinet to adopt the cut-off base year for the citizen of Manipur as 1961. But one thing that was asked to everyone is why the state cabinet needs to adopt a base year for the ILPS? Have those in the government ever gone in-depth on why the people, especially those demanding the ILPS wanted a base year? Had those employees, who are highly paid ever discussed the need for a base year in ILPS regulations, or had they forgotten that the Manipur State Legislative Assembly had passed a bill called ‘Manipur People Bill, 2018, but remains pending for getting assent of the president of India.
It should have been to the knowledge of those running the government and those executives implementing the decision of the government as well as those advising the government that there is no requisite for inclusion of base year in the ILPS. The ILPS that has been enforced in Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh has no base year. When people demanded a base year for defining the people of Manipur it is about checking the foreign influx in the state. And for that, a base year with a definition of the ‘People of Manipur’ is needed.
As agreed by all the members of the 60 assembly constituencies and also by the members of the Hill Area Committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, the ‘Manipur People’ has been defined in clause (j) of Section 2 of the Manipur People Bill, 2018.
It said, “ Manipur People means all the native people of Manipur who are citizens of India and includes all communities viz. Meitei/ Meetei, Meitei Pangal, Scheduled Tribes as listed under the constitution (Scheduled Tribes) order, 1950 and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Act, 1956, read with the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Act, 2011, as amended from time to time, Scheduled Castes as listed under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 in respect of Manipur, as amended from time to time, and their descendants. And other person or persons who are citizens of India who have been permanently residing and settled in Manipur before 1951, and their descendants, who are living in Manipur as on the date of commencement of this Act (The Manipur People Bill, 2018)”.
This showed that there are no differences among the people of the state in defining the people of Manipur as those citizens of India who resided before 1951.
Then, why not the state cabinet adopted 1951 as the cut-off base year for the identification of the people of Manipur. Acting on will without considering the consequences, no matter how one wants to show his or her essence of patriotism will only invite criticism. Such an act is no different from the activities of a monarch or a dictator in today’s world.
On the other hand, the state cabinet needs to introduce the National Register of Citizens and define the people of Manipur by adopting the base year as 1951.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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