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Demand for Inner Line Permit in Manipur – A Perspective From Darjeeling

Contd. from yesterday
By: Upendra
Inner Line Permit In Manipur
Currently there is no Inner Line Permit system in Manipur as it was never under the British rule and Manipur only became a part of India in 1949. So many Manipuris contend that they cannot adhere to the Indian constitution as they were not part of the deliberations process when the constitution was framed. Hence, they feel that ILP needs to be implemented in Manipur to protect the “indigenous” people from influx of migrants and immigrants. 
The old demand for Inner Line Permit in Manipur got new lease of life when the 2011 census data came out, and according to K.H. Ratan, convenor-in-charge of the Joint Committee on ILPS (JCILPS) said, “the population of Manipur is a little over 27 lakh (2,721,756), of this, only 17 lakh (1.7 million) are indigenous people and 10 lakh (one million) people are outsiders.” Here outsiders refer to mean “those people whose roots are outside of Manipur” and it includes the Gorkhas who are 60,000 or so in number.
So the agitators are demanding that Inner Line Permit be set and that the cut off year of 1949 be set in place, with anyone who is not registered as of 1949 be declared as an “outsider.”
While the Meitei community from the valley are supporting this demand, the hill tribes who constitute around 30% of Manipuri population, are opposed to the demand on the grounds that their views were neither sought, nor welcomed by the majority Meitei community.
Constitution – The Highest Authority
In a democratic country like India, the Constitution alone holds the highest power, and even though to demand various demands is one’s rights, but it has to be situated within the ambit of our constitution.
In terms of citizenship our Constitution is clear on who is an Indian, it reads:
·    “Citizenship by birth.-
(1) Except as provided in sub-section
(2), every person born in India,-
(a) on or after the 26th day of January,1950, but before the 1st day of July, 1987;
(b) on or after the 1st day of July, 1987, but before the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth;

(c) on or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, where-
(i) both of his parents are citizens of India; or
(ii) one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth, shall be a citizen of India by birth.”
Our constitution clearly states who is an Indian citizen and who is not, and no two citizens of the same country can be treated differently.
The current demand for setting 1949, some say 1951 (1st census of Independent India), some say 1972 (when Manipur was made a state) is too arbitrary and will lead to levelling of one section or the other of Indian people as “outsiders,” and that should not be permissible.  
Inner Line Permit – The Way Forward
Having suffered the pangs of illegal Bangladeshi immigration diluting our original population in the Siliguri, Dooars and Terai region and rendering us a minority in our own land, as an individual, my conscience does not permit me to oppose the demand for Inner Line Permit raised by the certain sections of the Manipuri community.
However, as an Indian, I cannot support anything that goes against the spirit of our constitution. To demand an arbitrary date to set as a cut off year or day on who will or who will not qualify to be counted as a person of Manipuri origin, will go against the spirit of the Indian constitution. There are genuine concerns that such arbitrary setting up of dates will also make room for nefarious elements with their own political and personal axes to grind, to victimize one community or the other.
Personally I feel that it will be prudent if the Inner Liner Permit when enacted should use the cut off date set as the day when such a law would come into be imposed. This will ensure that no one who is today a part of Manipur is left out, and this will also ensure that those who are a part of Manipur today will be protected for all such times to come.
Unity – Inside And Outside Manipur
It is said that for every Manipuri who lives in Manipur, at least two live outside. Whenever Manipuris have been a victim of Racism elsewhere in India, we – the Gorkhas have always spoken out and stood by our friends from Manipur, as we know how much it hurts when one is subjected to racist humiliation.
Manipur has been one of the greatest civilizations in the South Asian region, and it adopted democracy even before India formally did. So I appeal to all the Manipuri people, to protect and uphold the glorious history and rich legacy of your ancestors, and embrace the highest ideals of democracy by treating the minorities amongst you as one of your own.
For in unity lies our strength.

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