By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: With the Congress-led MUA -II government remaining firm on its stand against the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) for tackling the problem of influx of illegal migrants, the much-awaited all-party meeting on the crucial issue ended on a stalemate on Thursday.
Much to the dislike of parties like UDP, NPP and KHNAM, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma said that government has other mechanisms, like a strong ‘tenancy act’, in mind to address the issue of influx of illegal migrants into the Hill State.
During the all-party meet, representatives of the UDP, KHNAM and NPP spoke in favour of introduction of ILP while HSPDP seemed to be divided on the issue.
While HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit spoke strongly in support of ILP, another party representative Finela L Nonglait suggested constitution of an expert committee to study the issue before taking the final call.
GNC chief Clifford R Marak walked out of the meeting after the Chief Minister refused to convey the official stand of the government on ILP issue while KHNAM working president Adelbert Nongrum banged the desk in disappointment after Dr Sangma continued to evade replies on the report of the High Level Committee (HLC) on Influx.
The NCP and the MDP, however, supported government’s stand.
While refusing to accept the demand to implement ILP, the Chief Minister said his government was contemplating to formulate a strong ‘tenancy act’ and also converge various existing laws accordingly to tackle the problem of influx of illegal immigrants in a more effective manner.
“The government would try to link the proposed tenancy act with the various services (like employers and electricity) for tracking people who are residing illegally in the State,” Dr Sangma said adding that the government is confident that the proposed act would definitely help in checking the menace.
He also informed that the proposed ‘tenancy act’ was in the final stage of drafting and government was looking forward to complete the draft within this month.
“We would hold a consultative meeting on the draft with the various stakeholders, traditional institutions, civil societies and political parties within the first week of October,” the Chief Minister said while assuring that the government would keep up with the timeline on all its commitments.
Dr Sangma argued that if the Government endorses the recommendations of the High Level Committee (HLC) to implement the ILP, the process might take a long time since it requires the approval of the Centre.
“The government does not want to waste any more time to address this problem. There are possibilities that the Centre might even reject the proposal to implement ILP. Therefore, we feel that it would be better to adopt our own mechanism to tackle this menace,” he added.
While rejecting the claims of the Chief Minister, HSPDP leader Basaiawmoit said that only ILP could regulate the flow of outsiders into the State.
Basaiawmoit asserted that the existing laws have failed to control the problem of influx of illegal immigrants.
“I am not sure if the proposed ‘tenancy act’ would be of any help either,” he said.
The HSPDP legislator also questioned government’s credentials in regulating the problem as outsiders assimilate into the Khasi society after marrying girls from the community.
UDP working president Paul Lyngdoh asked whether the recommendations of the HLC which favoured implementation of ILP have been examined by the Cabinet.
“If the Cabinet has examined the recommendations then the government should make it public whether it has accepted the recommendations in totality or partially or whether it has rejected it,” Lyngdoh said adding that so far, it was not clear what government has done with the recommendations of the HLC.
“We must understand that this is not the recommendations of the Cabinet Sub-Committee. It is a recommendation of the HLC which was constituted under the initiative of Chief Minister himself,” the UDP working president said.
While stating that the Committee has shown due diligence in examining the pros and cons of ILP, he said the Committee is widely represented and the views of NGOs, civil societies, traditional institutions and elected representatives have been incorporated in the recommendations.
While referring to the HLC report, the UDP working president said the Committee had recommended that the ILP could be structured in a manner that would facilitate the participation of traditional institutions, NGOs and civil society and due care needs to be taken so that genuine citizens should not be subjected to undue harassment.
Meanwhile, admitting that the existing laws have failed to address the problem of influx of illegal immigrants, former Chief Minister DD Lapang stressed on the need to work as one combined force in tackling this menace.