Manipur assembly withdraws bill restricting migrants and visitors

  • Sobhapati Samom, Hindustan Times, Imphal
  • Updated: Jul 15, 2015 18:13 IST
Police try to intercept a protest march by students of TG Higher Secondary School and GP Women college in front of Raj Bhavan in Imphal. (Sobhapati Samom/HT Photo)

Manipur’s legislative assembly on Wednesday withdrew a controversial bill passed in March to regulate the entry of visitors and migrant workers to the state, giving to pressure from a group demanding the introduction of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system.

The legislators unanimously resolved to withdraw the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill of 2015 that was passed by the assembly on March 16 and said a new bill will be introduced within three months.

A 30-minute emergency sitting of the assembly made the decision following widespread protests spearheaded by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS), which had been demanding the withdrawal of the bill. The JCILPS wants a new law to regulate what it describes as the “influx of outsiders” in Manipur.

“The government wants to introduce a new bill in a special session of the assembly within three months to fulfil the wishes of the people,” chief minister O Ibobi Singh said in the House before the withdrawal of the bill.

“For this, the government needs to consult leaders of political parties and legal experts, including representatives of the JCILPS, in framing the new bill.”

He reminded the House that any money bill cannot be implemented without the assent of the governor. He sought cooperation and support from all quarters including leaders of political parties.

JCILPS had rejected the bill passed in March, saying it does not provide the same protection as the ILP system. It claimed the “influx of migrants” is affecting the social, cultural and political practices of the people of Manipur.

The ILP, which has its origins in British regulations dating back to 1873, regulates the entry of non-domicile citizens into restricted regions in the northeastern states.

It is currently in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram and people from other parts of India are required to obtain a permit to visit these states.

Critics of the ILP system say it creates unnecessary hurdles for development and trade activities and impedes the growth of tourism.

Despite the state government’s assurance, reports said women’s groups and workers of the Manipur People’s Party were staging sit-ins in parts of Manipur to push for the introduction of ILP. Women vendors in busy Imphal town joined a protest march ahead of negotiations between the government and representatives of JCILPS.

Manipur has been rocked by violent protests on the ILP issue. A 17-year-old student was killed in police firing and more than 150 people, including policemen, were injured in clashes.

In 2012, the Union government had turned down a demand from the Manipur government to implement ILP in the state.

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