TODAY -

Influx-weary Manipur, a destination for immigrants?
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: May 23 2018 -



As much as the reports are disturbing, the situation demands a serious re-thinking.

Of course, we are referring to the recent reports about the arrest of illegal immigrants from Myanmar particularly Rohingya Muslims at Moreh, Khudengthabi, Jiribam and Hatta Golapati being the latest.

In the wake of the military crackdown upon Rohingya militants in Rakhine State after Rohingya Arsa militants launched deadly attacks on more than 30 police posts, 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh since August last year.

Even as Bangladesh and Myanmar have been negotiating repatriation of the Rohingyas, nothing has been settled yet and the asylum seekers (Rohingyas) have made it clear that they have no intention of going back to Myanmar.

This is understandable given the fact that the Government of Myanmar is yet to recognise them as citizens of the country.

But what is hard to fathom are the pull factors which have been drawing Rohingya Muslims to Manipur.

What is even more intriguing is the active involvement of some local Muslims in bringing and sheltering Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to the State.

If the reports of arrest of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar are any indication, it can be safely assumed that illegal immigration takes place in the State which is already reeling under incessant influx from other parts of the country, and there is a vociferous demand for implementation of the Inner Line Permit System or a similar mechanism to regulate migration of non-local people to the State.

Yes, there is the Foreigners Act to deal with foreign immigrants but the indigenous people of the State are equally worried, if not more, about influx from other parts of the country.

It would be a gross mistake if the indigenous people’s movement against immigration of non-local people is construed as driven by xenophobia.

When migration transforms into exodus and influx between the place of origin and the destination, the process breeds an inherent threat perception.

Threats posed by large scale influx of immigrants vary reciprocally to geographical size and population of the host state, and correspondingly to the degree of divergence of culture and customs between the immigrants and the indigenous people.

It is an undeniable fact that Manipur is a very tiny State with a very small population but they have unique identity, culture and traditions which differ sharply from the predominant Indian culture and tradition.

Apart from completely dominating the labour market as well as the commerce of the State, immigrants are steadily infiltrating into the socio-political domain of the indigenous people.

This is where the demand for ILPS or a similar mechanism assumes enormous significance.

As demonstrated by the sustained mass movement for enactment of a constitutional mechanism to check influx into the State, all the indigenous people of the land need protection from both domestic and foreign immigrants.

There is the Foreigners Act to deal with foreign immigrants but it is as good as dead if the State fails to enforce it effectively.

The Chief Minister went on record stating that stringent security measures have been put in place in border areas of the State following the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and the subsequent exodus.

Sadly, we are of the view that these stringent security measures taken up at border areas are not effective enough to prevent illegal immigration as testified by the arrest of eight Rohingya Muslims from Imphal (Hatta Golapati).

In another word, the State Government needs to review its security measures and revamp them. Even a dedicated police force may be set up to deal with illegal immigration and immigrants, if the need arises.



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