TODAY -

Beginning with a protective mechanism
- Imphal Times Editorial :: December 13 2019 -



A point that has conveniently been missed while reporting the press conference called by the Chief Minister of Manipur was in the reply given to reporters regarding the implementation of National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam model.

NRC is a mechanism to detect the illegal immigrants who had been mixed and settled in the state before 1971.

Recently Assam government had detected over 19 lakhs such illegal immigrants while exercising NRC. One reason why Assamese people vehemently opposed CAB 2019 is because the NRC becomes meaningless and a futile exercise when the revised CAB is implemented.

The base year for allowing illegal immigrants who had entered the country due to religious persecution (in their words) is December 31, 2014, which means those detected illegal migrants under the NRC will have more than a probable chance to become Citizen of the country if they are Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Christian and Parsi from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The ongoing deadly agitation against CAB 2019 is genuine, from the perspective of indigenous Assamese brothers and sisters who had been struggling for the protection of their own indigenous people and their way of life.

In yesterday’s press conference held at the Chief Minister’s Conference, after expressing gratitude to the Union Government for granting extension of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1853 to the entire state of Manipur by amending the regulation, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had stated with extreme seriousness that the state government is in the process of implementing NRC in the state.

He also stated that the NRC may begin after the ongoing Parliament session as the implementation of NRC is also the desire of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

That means the centre will have no objection when the state government of Manipur implemented NRC as soon as possible.

Now, with the notification in the gazette of India for extension of “the Inner Line Permit System” under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1853, it is crystal clear that the so call contentious CAB 2019 will be exempted from the state of Manipur.

At section 3, clause 4 of the CAB , 2019, that has been passed in both the Houses of Parliament, it is clearly written that “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam , Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873".

There is no doubt that the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1853, has its own limitation. From the legal point of view, the regulation was irrelevant for the state of Manipur which was never directly under the British government.

When British introduced the Regulation it was meant for the Eastern frontiers of Bengal and when we talk about eastern frontiers of Bengal during that year of British era, they are to certain regions as mentioned in the earlier preamble.

It was the district of Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimur , Naga Hills and Cachar, that are all neighbor states of Manipur.

The so called regulations that existed for the erstwhile Kingdom of Manipur was different – it was more a visa type legislation, that the then Commissioner Himat Singh had abolished by an executive order.

When one question – Is ILP under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1853 that has been enforced in states like Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh enough to protect the state of Manipur – the unanimous answer from any intellectual, social and political thinkers will be a big and resounding “NO”.

We all have records of the growing number of non locals in the states where ILP is being enforced. Definitely ILP under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1853 is not a perfect tool for protection of the indigenous people.

It was because of that that scholars, political thinkers, social workers and those activists which demanded implementation of ILPS are adamant for a legislation that would be fit for the state of Manipur.

What we the people of today have to make a clear stand is over the fact that Manipur urgently need a regulation or legislation to make sure that the Contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 is exempted from the state of Manipur.

It has been done by the extension of ILP on December 11 but it is not a lasting solution but rather an interim relief which can be made a lasting one with the implementation of NRC in the state.

The left out portion in the contents of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1853, that the people felt insecure can be fulfilled if the state government is committed to do so.

Let the law of the land be reformed with some suitable and relevant amendments to go in par with other developing states.

If the government want to bridge the trust deficit of the people it has to make sure that all existing laws are being implemented judiciously not only in letter but more importantly in the spirit.

The time for tokenism and playing to the gallery is truly over.

Only a sincere, judicious and upright government who can connect with the people rather than its masters beyond the hills will be able to win the trust and support of the people of the state regardless of community, caste or faith.



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