Shutdown in Meghalaya following Inner Line Permit demand

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Violence erupted in Meghalaya after talks with the government over the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to control illegal immigrants from entering the state failed. Bombs were hurled at a CRPF camp in Shillong, Meghalaya on 31 August and three incidents of arson took place : a petrol bomb was thrown at Polo Bazar damaging a fast food shop and a motorcycle was set on fire at Langkyrding, while miscreants tried to set ablaze a house at Umsohsun.

What is the Inner Line Permit?

The Inner Line Permit is a travel permit handed out for by the Indian Government to Indian citizens wishing to travel to certain restricted areas. Under Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 the permit is required for visit Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Why the demand for the Inner Line Permit?

Sections of the indigenous community of Meghalaya believe that there is a large influx of migrants in the state, causing a demographic shift and threatening the indigenous tribes. The state receives migrants from Bihar, Nepal and other states of Northeast India as well as illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Many of them work in the coal-mines in the state. Besides, following the Telangana resolution, the demand for a separate Garoland has flared up.

However, this sentiment is not supported by statistics. In 1981, 20% of the population of Meghalaya consisted of non-tribals. According to the 1991 and 2011 censuses, the population of non-tribals was 14.47% and 13% respectively.

What is the policy of the state government on the ILP?

The State Government feels that there is no need to implement the ILP in Meghalaya as it infringes on the rights of citizens to travel with the country and has set up a separate directorate to check migration. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that the influx of illegal migrants could be checked by amending the Meghalaya Compulsory Tenancy Bill.

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