Inner line permit issue causes furore in northeast

July 27th, 2008 - 11:18 am ICT by IANS  

By Sujit Chakraborty
Aizawl, July 27 (IANS) A court ruling permitting non-domicile Indians to settle in three northeastern states without obtaining a permit has created a furore in the region, with the affected states saying they would appeal against this. The Guwahati High Court, while ruling on a public suit against the Inner-Line Permit (ILP) system, had barred the Mizoram government from arresting or deporting any Indian nationals on the ground that they did not possess the document.

Now, the governments of Mizoram, as also of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh - the other two states where the ILP is in force - plan to move a division bench of the high court and even the Supreme Court to get the verdict overturned.

“The three states have decided to move the high court division bench or the Supreme Court, besides appealing to the central government to ensure its continuation,” Mizoram Law Minister H Rammawi told IANS.

He had led a delegation earlier this month to Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh to meet the chief ministers and law ministers of the two states to discuss the matter.

Nagaland Chief Minister Nephiu Rio, Home Minister Imkong Imchen and Arunachal Pradesh Law Minister Tako Dabi “told us that the three states should go any extent to continue the ILP,” Rammawi said.

The ILP, or the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, has been in force in the region since 1873. The tribal-based Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) and the Khasi Students Union (KSU) of Meghalaya have also demanded that the ILP be promulgated in their states to protect the indigenous people.

“The ILP does not affect tourists and other visitors, but the states must have some regulations for outsiders, particularly for suspected foreign migrants, to protect the ethnic and indigenous tribes of the northeast,” said Arunachal Pradesh Law Minister Tako Dabi.

The high court’s June 12 order has triggered massive resentment in the three northeastern states.

Christian-majority Mizoram June 26 observed a dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the Young Mizo Association (YMA) against the high court order.

Supported by various political parties, YMA, which is a powerful and non-political organization, also organised protest demonstrations across the mountainous state bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh. It also unfurled black flags over buildings throughout the state.

“The state government has appealed to the people not to be panicky and has assured that no stone would be left unturned to fight the court’s order legally even up to the Supreme Court,” Minister Rammawi added.

Protests by NGOs, students’ organisations and regional political parties have also been staged earlier this month at different places in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

The North Eastern Students Organisation (NESO) also vehemently condemned the high court order.

“The court took a condemnable decision undermining the sentiments of the people in three (affected) states,” NESO said in a statement.

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