Black sheep in the movement for ILPS : Part - III

Samarjit Kambam *

ILP :  Students protesting in pursuit of demand for restricting non-locals :: 27 July 2017
ILP : Students protesting in pursuit of demand for restricting non-locals in July 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

The writer had brought forth two pieces on the topic in the past, however, the impulse to write on this issue gets even stronger. Hence, the third part on the topic is placed before you.
Read Part 1 and Part 2

Look where we are. The status quo is the same as before. Unregulated influx of non locals going on as a routine affair, ever expanding sea of non locals, natives of the state getting side-lined particularly in the valley areas, the pull factor like a big magnet near small iron filings, a bleak and uncertain future for the indigenous groups of people of Manipur.

Recently, the public and CSOs of Kangpokpi district also lamented that it has become a dumping ground for non-locals. With almost the economy of the state in the hands of non locals since years back, a strong foothold was created thereby acting as an impetus for more influx of non locals in the form of migrant workers.

The ILPS should not be mistaken as a tool for prohibiting entry of non indigineous people from outside the state. It is a system to regulate and control the magnitude of huge influx of non locals to prevent the small ethnic populace of Manipur from being submerged in the ever expanding sea of non locals. Nagaland is doing well with this system, so do Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

Many people outside the state consider the demand for ILPS as a racist movement. But in ground reality it’s not the case. It is a demand of provision embedded in the Indian Constitution which is our birthright, our privilege. It’s quite different from ‘prohibition’ or ‘restricted area’.

This doesn’t mean that non-Manipuris are not welcomed. It is just that a concrete and practical system is maintained to preserve the indigenous people from losing their identity as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

I don’t blame the non locals for this bleak scenario. As per Constitution of India which was adopted from the Irish Constitution, it has in its store various Acts for preserving the ethnic indigenous communities of India with Northeast in particular. As per Indian Constitution, any Indian can go to and reside in any part of India.

It may sound very narrow minded with a myopic outlook in this era of globalisation. However, the North Eastern region of India and Jammu & Kashmir are exceptions. Every ruling governments at the Centre since the time of independence of India from British colonial yoke blabber about preserving the ethnicity of North Eastern region of India but in ground reality, things goes divergent, for those blabbers were only lip services to garner votes.

The British, though known for their divide and rule policy were far sighted and envisioned that the ethnicity of the North East region of India will be compromised as is happening now. They thus introduced the Inner Line Permit System in the states of Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh as per Eastern Bengal Frontier Act 1873 and the system was implemented in Manipur from 1947 to 1950 to control influx of non locals from outside the state.

Such a system ensured identification, detection, registration and control of illegal immigration in Manipur. In 1948, the Government of India had officially approved retention of the permit system in Manipur but this permit system was abolished by Mr Himmat Singh, the then Chief Commissioner of Manipur on 18 Nov 1950 when Manipur was a Union Territory. Since then, there has been unchecked influx of outsiders leading to unprecedented increase of immigrant population in Manipur thereby dwarfing its indigenouspopulace.

‘Unity in diversity’ – a very beautiful clause has been the hallmark of India. This clause was scripted as a means of contemplating to other nations of the world that in a pluralistic, multi-religious, multi-lingual nation like ours, the cohesive existence among the various multi-ethno-cultural groups is a cakewalk.

The very clause really digs hard to bring out the beauty to the fore that the identity, culture, land, language, script etc of the various indigenous and ethnic groups and communities in India is protected whereby the denizens of various states and union territories live together with love, peace and unity regardless of its diversity.

But in reality it’s more like a phantom clause bearing the deceptive meaning, `Engulf them all’. The controversial remark by RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat that Hindustan(India) is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is the identity of our nation bears testimony to that. India is like a big sea with diverse creatures where the big ones engulf the smaller ones. What an irony. Sometimes many questions emerge like, “Is Indian democracy a true democracy?”.

India boasts as one of the largest democratic countries in the world but in reality it’s fiercer than a tyrannical rule. The very meaning of ‘democracy’ is not served right when democracy becomes the very tool to kill its own people. Manipur has been gifted with a draconian law known as Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958, a law deemed unfit to be included in the Constitution of a democratic nation.

It is such a demonic act that gives special powers to the security forces to counter militancy and insurgency but is also a tool that acts as a ‘leveller’ to decrease the number of denizens of the region as much as possible with its ‘license to kill’ power on mere suspicion mingled with other kinds of activities such as fake encounters wherein the security forces carry out with full impunity so that the indigenous population of North East India with Mongoloid features and Manipur in particular is pruned as much as possible with the strategic aim of mainland India of Aryan and Dravidian blood engulfing the miniscule population of the region.

I appreciate the whole hearted efforts of JCILPS in this particular and sensitive issuefor their relentless pursuance for implementation of Inner Line Permit System or similar mechanism in Manipur. Even though the JCILPS has urged the state government to come up with a Bill or other similar mechanism to check the inflow of non-locals during the monsoon Assembly Session, nothing tangible has come out so far.

The bloodless population warfare which the JCILPS has been fighting for so many years has so far not seen the light of the day. Over and above, the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 considered a critical and rogue Bill has added salt to the wound of North Eastern Region of India which is the region most vulnerable as immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar keep pouring in the region like water from a huge river. Assam is facing the greatest brunt due to the ever increasing inflow of Bangladeshi immigrants. After some years, they may demand a separate Bangladeshi homeland in Assam. Same applies in Manipur also.

The writer is not preaching anyone. Am just a non-entity expressing my humble opinion which may be wrong, may be right. But I have a right to express my opinion. Am just a lousy guy who is so concerned about the bleak future of Manipur. With the impending rail connectivity upto Imphal city in the near future, the condition will further aggravate.

Of course, prices of essential commodities will get cheaper but the ironical truth is that the non locals will get even more cheaper. We will be breathing non locals by that time if ILPS or a similar mechanism is not implemented at the earliest. I had mentioned about Tripura time and again wherein the indigenousTripuris are totally sidelined by non locals and are on the brink of extinction.

I hope you don’t want that scenario to happen in Manipur. Yes, it’s the era of globalisation, the world is virtually shrinking. Caste, creed, religion may slowly fade away. However, we need to maintain our identity, our culture and our established norms.

We the Manipuris, particularly the Meiteis have a distorted and false pride that that doing manual work degrades our dignity. That has been the main reason for this pull factor. However, of late, it is really heart-warming to see the attitude of the Meiteis changing a lot in terms of work culture. Better late than never. Now we can witness many locals taking up manual works.

There are even women ice-cream vendors criss-crossing the roads. Many local barbers, cobblers, sugarcane juice vendors and portable roadside eatery stalls could be seen. It’s a very welcome development. If we had cast aside our false pride and embraced manual work since decades back, there would not have been any pull factor and the non locals would have automatically returned back if they could not find any daily wage work in Manipur.

Well, the pass cannot be retrieved. Late though it is, there’s always a silver lining. I really appreciate the gradual change in the mind-set of the locals in taking up manual works. It’s one of the best tools to fight this population warfare and reduce the pull factor. However, implementation of ILPS or other similar system is of utmost importance. Even though I am not a member of JCILPS and can’t physically take part in the quest for implementation of ILPS, I give my whole-hearted moral support and encouragement for the cause.

As mentioned before time and again, the stumbling block is that there are so many black sheep in this pristine movement for implementation of ILPS which is being carried out whole heartedly by members of JCILPS. As long as these black sheepkeep on harbouring the non locals, a huge logjam will always remain in front of the whole hearted efforts of JCILPS.

Now, its time for the JCILPS to focus their attention on the black sheep. They are the real double standard kind of people, hypocrites in the real sense who thinks only for their monetary benefits. As has been mentioned before, the places infested with non locals harboured by the black sheep need not be mentioned. All of us know.

Over and above pursuing vigorously to the State Government, the JCILPS need to put the black seep which acts as the main stumbling block in the movement for implementation of Inner Line Permit System or other similar mechanism in the state of Manipur on the scanner and take up necessary action as deemed fit to achieve our goal.

There is a provision in the Indian constitution to protect the indigenous people by the very government of the state as per Article 19(5) clause (a) and (b). Its high time that the Hon’ble Chief Minister alongwith his flock of ministers do something concrete, push and pull hard to bring ILPS or a similar mechanism in Manipur before we become refugees in our own birthplace. Hope the indigenous people of Manipur don’t become history.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at kambamsamarjit0(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on June 30, 2018.

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