TODAY -

Manipur Deserves Implementation of 'Inner Line Permit System' (ILPS)
- Part 1 -

Hareshwar Goshwami *

Sit-In and Rally to protest Killing of Student by Police firing and  pro-ILPS  :: July 20 2015
Rally to protest Killing of Student by Police firing and pro-ILPS on July 20 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Manipur had a long history of independent existence endorsed by historical facts, archeological sources, epigraphic evidences etc. Manipur as an independent kingdom had Check Posts/Stockades known as 'Pal-thong' set up at strategic points since very ancient days.

Mention may be made 'Khoibu Pal' (Khoibu Stockade) established by King Meiding-U Ura Konthouba (568-658 AD) at the present Khoibu village to regulate egress and ingress of outsiders on the eastern corridor of the then kingdom of Manipur and for other reasons.

King Meiding-U Khagemba (1597-1652 AD) also established such a post known as 'Haochong Pal' (Haochong Stockade) on the west, situated at the present Haochong village, for the same purpose.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was created in 1860 in modern lines and was put under the charge of 'Awapurel' (Minister In-Charge of Burmese Affairs). However the decisive defeat of Manipur at the hands of British in Anglo-Manipur War (1891) completely changed the destiny of Manipur including its foreign policy. Manipur became a Princely State under the British rule.

But the regulation on entry and exit of foreigners was continued even after the British rule. The tax collected from the outsiders (foreigners) during the year 1900-01 is shown as Rs. 4, 429/- in the 'Manipur Administrative Report' of the year 1900-1901. It shows the existence of the 'Permit' or 'Passport' system regulating the movement of the 'outsiders' during this time in Manipur. This 'Permit' system was put under the Foreigners' Department in November 1931.

In the meantime, Manipur became independent from 15 August 1947 till its controversial merger with Indian Union on 15 October 1949. After the merger of Manipur with the Dominion of India, the then Chief Commissioner of Manipur was authorized to use all the powers earlier exercised by the Maharaja of Manipur by the 'Manipur Administration Order (Ministry of State), 1949'. Taking full advantage of the situation, the then Chief Commissioner of Manipur, Himmat Singh, abolished the 'Permit' system for entry into and exit from Manipur vide Notification No. 8597-601 H.D. dated 18 November 1950.

The Genesis of the 'Inner Line Permit System' (ILPS):

The genesis of 'Inner Line Permit System' (ILPS) can be traced to 'Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873'. On 27 August, 1873, the British India declared provisions of Act 33 (Vict. Chap-3, Section 1) known as the ' Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873' to be applicable to the then districts of Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur (Garo Hills), Khasi and Jaintia Hills, Naga Hills, Cachar 'for the peace and government of the said districts'.

Later on, the Regulation was extended by notification under Act, 1874 (XIV of 1874), section 5, to the then 'Scheduled Districts', namely, the Eastern Duars in the Goalpara District the Mokokchang Sub-division of the Naga Hills District, the Sadiya Frontier Tract, the Balipara Frontier Tract, the Lakhimpur Frontier Tract and the Lushai Hills district. Under this system, no persons from outside were not allowed to enter the boundary called 'The Inner line' of the 'scheduled places' stated in the Regulation without a valid pass issued by a competent authority.

The main objective of 'The Inner Line' system as enshrined in the preamble of the Regulation is, "A Regulation for the peace and Government of certain districts on the Eastern Frontier of Bengal." This bit of line can be and is interpreted in many ways. Whatever be the intention of the makers of this Regulation, the enforcement of the Regulation resulted to provide a special protection of the distinct identity and safeguard the peaceful existence of the indigenous people ( whether tribal or not) living beyond the then 'Eastern Frontier of Bengal' besides protecting the natural resources of the region to some extent.

Some outline of this interpretation is found reflected in the Eighty Third amendment of the Constitution of India that enforced 'Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873' (Inner Line Permit System) in Arunachal Pradesh, among other things.

The 'Inner Line':

The term 'Inner Line' is found used and defined in both the existing 'Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873' and 'Foreigners' (Protected Areas) Order, 1958'. The 'Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873' had empowered the 'State Government' to prescribe, and from time to time to alter by notification in the official Gazette a line to be called 'The Inner Line' in each or any of the districts named in the Regulation.

In short, the State Government(s) are empowered to define 'The Inner line' of the areas/districts mentioned or incorporated thereafter in the Regulation. However after the independence, the Government of India, Ministry of Home affairs (MHA) issued an order dated 19 August 1958, under the title 'Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958', under the 'Foreigners Act, 1946', defining the 'Inner line' again.

This 'Inner line' segregated the so called 'Protected Areas' from the rest of India. As per the order, a 'Protected Area' is any border area falling beyond the 'Inner line' as described in schedule I of the order. With regards to Manipur, the schedule I defines 'Inner line' of Manipur as " From the tri-junction of Nagaland, Manipur and Assam the line follows the western border of Manipur up to the point of tri-junction of Manipur, Mizoram and Assam."

It clearly puts the whole State of Manipur outside the 'Inner line' i.e. within the so called 'Protected Area'. Now it is crystal clear that the present State of Manipur lies outside the 'Inner Lines'. The only unanswered question is ; which one of the two lines is taken as the 'Inner Line' by the Government of India ? The line carved out by the 'Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873' or the line formed by the 'Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958' ? Whatever the case may be, in both the cases Manipur falls beyond the 'Inner Line'.

To be contd...


* Hareshwar Goshwami wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on July 30, 2015.


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