|Sit-in-protest at Kabui Mothers at Kakhulong demanding Inner Line Permit System|
Currently Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram are covered under the ILP regime which requires Indian citizens from outside these states to get a permit to enter the state for a duration ranging from 15 days to 6 months for temporary visits and up to 1 year for those who go to work there.
In fact, Darjeeling is the ONLY mountain region in India, where local interests are not protected and anyone from the actor Govinda to international investors are freely allowed to buy and sell land.
However, the idea of ILP is sold to the rest of the country as being a protective measure to ensure “safeguarding the indigenous people from inundation of eternal migrant and immigrant communities.”
In terms of migrants and immigrants, it is well acknowledged that due to the open border policy shared between India and Nepal, people from both the nations have emigrated from one nation to the other.
Due to Indo- Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950 (INFT) – the term “illegal immigrants” does not apply to people from Nepal entering India or Indian citizens entering Nepal. Every Indian citizen who moves to Nepal or every Nepali who moves to India does so legally and is protected by the INFT of 1950.
Article 6: Each Government undertakes, in token of the neighborly friendship between India and Nepal, to give to the nationals of the other, in its territory, national treatment with regard to participation in industrial and economic development of such territory and to the grant of concessions and contracts, relating to such development.
Sadly it is these two clauses which were written to safeguard citizens from India and Nepal in each other’s country, which creates misunderstanding and problem for Indian Gorkhas.
The Gorkhas in Manipur share a glorious history, while there were scattered population of Gorkhalis living in Manipur, formally the Gorkhas became a part of Manipur history when Raja Gambhir Singh recruited Gorkha soldiers to defend Manipur from Burmese intruders in 1824.
Currently there is not Inner Line Permit system in Manipur as it was never under the British rule and Manipur only became a part of India in 1949. So many Manipuris contend that they cannot adhere to the Indian constitution as they were not part of the deliberations process when the constitution was framed. So they feel that ILP needs to be implemented in Manipur to protect the “indigenous” people from influx of migrants and immigrants.
While the Meitei community from the valley are supporting this demand, the hill tribes who constitute around 30% of Manipuri population, are opposed to the demand on the grounds that their views were neither sought, nor welcomed by the majority Meitei community.
In a democratic country like India, the Constitution alone holds the highest power, and even though to demand various demands is one’s rights, but it has to be situated within the ambit of our constitution.
In terms of citizenship our Constitution is clear on who is an Indian, it reads:
• “Citizenship by birth.-
It is said that for every Manipuri who lives in Manipur, at least two live outside. Whenever Manipuris have been a victim of Racism elsewhere in India, we – the Gorkhas have always spoken out and stood by our friends from Manipur, as we know how much it hurts when one is subjected to racist humiliation.