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CM questions Bindo-led influx panel’s report

Opp ILP resolution defeated

Members watch as Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma presents his reply on the resolution on ILP moved by HSPDP member Ardent Basiawmoit on Thursday. (ST)
Members watch as Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma presents his reply on the resolution on ILP moved by HSPDP member Ardent Basiawmoit on Thursday. (ST)

SHILLONG: The ruling Congress-led MUA government on Thursday defeated the resolution on implementation of ILP moved by HSPDP member Ardent Miller Basiawmoit but not before the active participation of almost all the Opposition members and a single member from the Treasury bench in the discussion.

The resolution brought by Basaiawmoit on the last day of the Autumn Session was defeated through voice vote.

Speaker Abu Taher Mondal put the House into vote after Basaiawmoit refused to withdraw the resolution despite appeal from Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma to withdraw it since his government has taken a number of steps including the propose legislative measure in the form of Tenancy Law to address the issue of influx and illegal immigrants in the State in a much more comprehensive manner.

While moving the resolution, Basaiawmoit said that there is a sense of insecurity in the minds of indigenous people of the State.

“I know Chief Minister will reply to my resolution by saying that ILP can not be implemented in Meghalaya since the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 has been repealed from Garo Hills and as such it needs Central government’s approval,” the HSPDP legislator said.

While stating that the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 has not been repealed from Khasi and Jaintia Hills since it came into force on November 1, 1873 he said that it is a fact that the Garo Hills District of the erstwhile province of Assam was removed from the ILP ambit by a repealing act of 1897.

He requested the Chief Minister not to equate Meghalaya with Manipur as far as the issue of ILP is concerned.”In this case the Central Government had rejected the demand of the Manipur Government on the ground that there is no provision for the introduction of ILP in Manipur. The Centre instead asked the Ibobi government to keep strict vigil on the non – Manipuri people who are engaged in different low paid trades,” the HSPDP legislator said.

On the Meghalaya Regulation of Landlord and Verification of Tenants Bill, 2013, Basaiawmoit said that he is amused at the manner in which the government especially the Chief Minister is trying to say that this Bill will help combat influx.

According to Basaiawmoit, the draft Meghalaya Regulation of Landlord and Verification of Tenant Bill, 2013 says nothing about influx and how to put restrictions on the people from outside Meghalaya who come to work or do trade and business here. “It only talks about how to regulate landlords and verify the antecedents of tenants,” he said.

He said also criticized the Government for suppressing the movement of pro-ILP NGOs through certain draconian laws including setting up of special courts to try NGO activists.

Participating in the discussion, UDP legislator Paul Lyngdoh said that the State Government should implement the ILP to check influx from the entry points to reverse the fear that is gripping the indigenous community and non-indigenous permanent residents of the State.

“This is a very emotive issue which needs to be addressed once and for all,” Lyngdoh said.

“Government can structure the ILP in such a way to suit the local needs and aspirations of the indigenous people,” he said while suggesting that the Government can think of implementing ILP on a trial basis in few districts.

“The Government can extend the provision of ILP if it is successful,” Lyngdoh said while also underlining on the need to have a multi-pronged approach since he also understands that ILP alone would not be able to address the problem.

Opposition Leader Dr Donkupar Roy said that the Government should not be rigid while handling this critical issue, otherwise it would lead to major disaster.

“There is a need on the part of the Government to be more flexible,” Dr Roy said.

While stating that the people migrate to the State for business, employment and to find a living space, he said that there is a need on the part of the Government to encourage people here to do various works on their own.

“If there are no employment opportunities, no one would come into the State,” Dr Roy said.

While stating that the various existing laws like Benami Transaction Act and the Regulation of Trading by non-tribals has failed to arrest the problem of influx, he said that the immediate solution to address the issue of influx is ILP.

“The Government can think of implementing the ILP in selected areas for two to three years. If the Government finds that it is not feasible, then it can withdraw the ILP from the State,” Dr Roy said.

NPP legislator James K Sangma said Government can think of implementing the ILP as a stop gap arrangement till the time the Government is able to come up with a comprehensive mechanism to address this problem.

Other who participated in the motion include South Tura legislator John Leslee Marak, UDP legislators Jemino Mawthoh, Tistosstarwell Chyne and Embhah Syiemlieh, HSPDP legislators Hoping Stone Lyngdoh, KP Pangngiang and Witting Mawsor.

The lone legislator from the ruling coalition who participated in the discussion opposing the resolution was Mylliem legislator Ronnie V Lyngdoh. He narrated the plight of poor and the farmers due to the ongoing agitation. The legislator defended the Government’s stand that ILP was an archaic law.

Lyngdoh also told the Assembly there was no permit required to visit Sikkim contrary to the view expressed by Paul Lyngdoh.

Replying to the motion, the Chief Minister raised questions on the report of Bindo Lanong-led High Level Committee which recommended implementation of ILP in the state.

Dr Sangma said the terms of reference of the committee was to suggest a multi-pronged strategy, both long-term and short-term, and a practical approach to check influx.

“Instead of coming up with multi-pronged approach, the committee decided to recommend only ILP which clearly defeats the mandate of setting up of this committee. It gives an indication that the committee opted for ILP with an eye to the election,” Chief Minister said.

Referring to the ongoing violence in the city, Dr Sangma said, “Some people are hell bent on forcing Government to do what they think is right but actually it is not right.”

He also said how does Government hold discussions with NGOs who came to the last meeting with closed mind even as he said that people usually don’t defy the agitations since fear psychosis has been infused in the minds of people.

He also defended the action against the perpetrators of crime stating that provisions of law must prevail.

While maintaining that Government does not have the legislative authority to implement ILP in the state, he said, “The decision has to be taken by the Centre. I don’t know how many months we have to wait before the Centre to take the final call. We have seen the fate on the resolution passed by the Assembly on the constitution of the Boundary Commission.”

He also did not agree with the Opposition members that the State Government is rigid in its approach and he asserted that Government has come out with number of measures.

“While we want to protect indigenous people we need to ensure that genuine citizens are not harassed,” he added. He said that the problem of influx does not start at border. The Government wants to regulate the stay of migrant labourers through Regulation of Landlord and Verification of Tenants Act which Government is preparing.

He added that the proposed Act would be beneficial even in coal mine areas where floating population exists.

While speaking all out against ILP, he presented statistics saying that the population of non tribals in Arunachal Pradesh where ILP is implemented was 21% in 1971 and it rose to 31%in 2011.

Similarly in ILP implemented Nagaland, the population of non-tribals rose to 13.52 % from 11.31 % during the same period even.

On the contrary, he said that the population of non-tribals in Meghalaya was 19.48 % in 1971 and it fell to 13.65 in 2011 though ILP is not implemented in the State.

The Chief Minister informed that Meghalaya was under the ambit of Restricted Area Permit and it was former Chief Minister SC Marak who took up the issue of repeal of RAP with Union Government after appeals from the public , and finally RAP was lifted in 1995.

He said that even foreign countries despite having stringent acts suffer from illegal immigration and UK is now proposing to regulate the stay of tenants to deal with the issue of illegal immigration.

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