The Role of ILP Movement in Manipur is Anti-Pangal. Do you agree? If yes, why? If not, why?
- Part 1 -

W.M. Afzal Khan *

 Women folks of Khwairamband Keithel protest ILP on March 17 2015
Women folks of Khwairamband Keithel protest ILP on March 17 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Inner Line Permit System Ostensibly is to control the influx of outsiders in the state. Initially, the British govt. had introduced ILPS to protect its commercial interests, particularly in oil and tea. It came into force in 1873 and continued to protect the tribal people and their cultures. The ILPS, which remained in force until 1950, was revoked by the then commissioner of Assam, whose jurisdiction also covered Manipur. Since Manipur, which attained statehood in 1972, is not officially a tribal state, there are constitutional challenges to implementing the ILPS.

It is a kind of travel document or require to the outsiders to obtain a special pass or permit to enter the state. The ILPS is in force in the states (neighbouring) of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

The objective of ILPS has been to prevent outsiders from buying up land and owning natural resources in Manipur. Meiteis are facing the problem posed by the migration of the non- Meiteis which has threatened their economic and political interest, ethnic and cultural identity. Meiteis, despite their known achievements in arts and culture, sport and other skills, they are deeply apprehensive of being marginalized and facing insecurity in Manipur.

They are worried about the socio, cultural and economic domination by outsiders as a result of large-scale migration especially after the extension of railway lines, trans-Asian highways and expansion of market corridors towards southeast Asian countries and danger of being over swamped and reduced to a minority in their own land consequently affecting their cultural, economic and political life due to unabated influxed of the non-Meiteis from across international borders as well as from the other states of mainland Indian has stirred up to protect themselves.

Though the majority Meiteis community would have liked to make the demand an inclusive one, the issue has become divisive and have been along commercial lines. The reality is problem of outsiders became just a element; triggering point is among the different communities within the state of Manipur. 32 organizations came together under the umbrella of Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS), but the movement is Imphal Centric, less cooperation with the organizations of minorities and play double standard that Muslims and Tribals are not supporting the movement of ILPS. And this is really shameful when Meiteis scholars/intellectuals have tongue-tide to say we ;Manipuri or Manipuri people' rather they proudly wrote and talked as Meiteis, meiteis. They think us as other, and blaming is their habit.

The ILPS movement which is going on is deeply rooted with the theoretical foundation propounded by sociologist (Hebert Blumer, William Kornhauser and Neil Smelser) during early and middle 1900's.

Conformation of ILPS movement with collective behaviour approach (psychological perspective) of social movement apparently relates with the random occurrences of individuals who were trying to emotionally react to solutions outside their control because of strain in a particular trait or behaviour in society. But there was less mobilization of this movement among people especially among Muslims & Tribals. Why do Meitei org. failed to organize this movement among in minorities for mainstreaming minorities?

From the theoretical perspectives of Relative deprivation approach (of James Davies, Ted Gurrr, Denton Morison / Ideas of Marxism ). Like any other movement, in this ILPS movement people are driven into movements out of a sense of deprivation; resource deprivation/mass apprehension of exhaustion of limited resource in Manipur with increase in population through influx of people from outside, or inequality, particularly in relation to others or in relation to their expectations.

In the first view, Meiteis who propagated ILPS movement see others who have more power, economic resources or status and thus try to acquire these same things for themselves. In the second view, Tribal people are most likely to rebel when a consistently improving situation stops and makes a turn for the worse. At this juncture, a critical question can be posed concerning Meitei Pangal, whether it would really benefitted Meitei Pangal if the bills become Act?

Unfortunately, instead of serious concerning the interest of Meitei Pangal, who is a native community with a historical background and socially assimilated more than four centuries, meiteis scholars and intellectuals misinterpret this indigenous community as 'Prisoners of War', which is grand abstract with no historical background and there is a huge debate among Meitei scholars/intellectuals meiteis Pangal should included or excluded in the indigenous communities.

Within the state Meitei pangal (muslims) face insecurity and have threatened from the majority community because of our identity almost everyday. Then, who is indigenous in content of the bill, 'Protection of Manipur People Bill', 2015?

The protection of Manipur people bill, 2015 clause 2(b) of the bill defines 'Manipur People' as 'Persons of Manipur whose names are in the National Register of Citizens, 1951, Census Report 1951 and village directory of 1951 and their descendents who have contributed collective social, cultural and economic life of Manipur. This definition of Manipur people has so many implication. In the first place to be considered as Manipur people, you or your forefathers will have to be registered in three registers,
i. National registers of citizens, 1951
ii. Census report 1951 and
iii. Village directory of 1951

Notice the use of the word 'and'. This means that even if you or your forefathers had been registered in any one or any two of the above mentioned registers/directory, you will not be considered as Manipuri. You have to fulfill all three criteria.

Do you even know whether yours or your father's or grandfather's names have been included in these registers/directory. Many people will be left out because at that time the government machinery would not have reached every nook and corner of the state, especially the hill areas as they are cut off from the valley areas and most of the villages are non-motor able at that time.

Why 1951? Why not 1971 or 1981? Manipur got its statehood in 1972. If this definition is applied then most of the people who are natives of Manipur at the time of statehood will not even be considered Manipur people. Also, if the intended target it outsiders, when did the influx of outsiders in huge number start? Perhaps in the 1980s or 1990s? Why then the cut off year of 1951?

The bill is also silent about the procedure to be adopted for determination of Manipur people. It defines Manipur people but is silent about the procedures to determine whether one is a Manipur people or not. It is not clear on whom the onus/burden of proving whether a person is a native of Manipur or not lies? Whether the ones of proof lies with the person or the government? This is not clear.

In the absence of clarity, it is fearful that the onus will lie on the person. And how can a person proof that he is a native of Manipur? Even if my grandfather's name is there, how can I proof that I am his grandson? All this issues are not clear? The names included in the registers/directory mentioned in the definition are not in the public domain and you don't even know whether you or your father's or grandfather's is there in this register.

You may consider yourself a native of Manipur, having been born and brought up in Manipur and your forefathers have settled in the state even before the state was born, but if your father, grandfathers name is not registered, you will soon become an outsider, a non native in your own state.

(this essay was also submitted to Delhi Association of Manipur Muslim Students (DAMMS) and got second position on its annual online essay competition) .

* W.M. Afzal Khan wrote this article for
The writer is M.A in politics, JNU and can be contacted at wmafzalkhan1995(aT)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on October 30 2015.

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