Why is Manipur in Turmoil? Facts we must know about the ILP issue


Before we make any assumptions about the ongoing ILP issue in Manipur, it does justice to the State if we get to know this issue in all aspects.

  • An Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India in order to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected for a limited period.
  • The Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit (JCILP) is of the view that the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill 2015 had failed to safeguard the interests of Manipur's indigenous people. Hence, they have been demanding for the ILP Bill to be converted into an Act.
  • There have been rumours that ILP agitation is a ploy by the Meiteis to gain the ST status. Also that they see the influx of outsiders as a threat who may in future out number them in terms of population.
  • Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh of the Congress Party supports the demand for ILP and was in Delhi to appraise the Centre for heading forward with the ILP Act.

The call for ILP has taken a complex inter-ethnic political turn not only in Manipur but beyond. This 'us versus them debate" is, however not new to the Northeastern Indian region.

Although the main reason for the demand for ILP is the protection of the indigenous tribe of Manipur, this struggle is centered on the Imphal valley which is primarily dominated by the Meiteis. The tussle is now between the 'Hill and Valley'. Hence the tribes that dominate the hills surrounding the Imphal Valley are mostly immune to ILP and do not really press for it. The demand for ILP is also supplemented by calls of granting ST status to the Meiteis which could turn Manipur into an entirely tribal state.

There seems to be no end to the uncertainty of three Bills from Manipur being converted into an Act, namely the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 which were unanimously passed by the Manipur Assembly.

The complexities are not primarily constitutional or legal but the process of converting the Bill into an Act has disillusioned the entire process thereby making it seem tangled.

The three Bills emerged following talks between the Manipur Government and Joint Committee on the Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) that spearheaded the 2-month-old agitation for the Inner Line Permit in Manipur meant to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people of the State.

It may be noted that from August 31 to September 1, 2015, the people of Manipur went on a mass protest against the three Bills passed by the Manipur Government. 9 people were killed during the protest and whose bodies are still left unburied in Churchandpur District of Manipur.

Again, on Wednesday, it was informed that legal and constitutional experts are to re-examine the three Manipur anti-migrant bills and come up with new legislation, it was decided following a meeting between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and a Manipur delegation headed by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Rajnath Singh is understood to have conveyed to the delegates of all political parties from Manipur the reasons for rejecting the three bills passed by the Manipur Assembly on August 31, 2015.
Protests at Manipur Bhawan Delhi against the three bills has overtaken the sentiments of some which led to trouble when indigenous people demanded that CM Okram Ibobi Singh should come out and speak to the crowd but refused and in the process a scuffle broke which led to many left injured.
As per sources, it is reported that at least 15 people including five police personnel were injured after a group of protesters and police clashes outside Manipur Bhavan in Chanakyapuri. According to the protesters, they claimed that they were beaten up by policemen as well as Jawans of Manipur Rifles.

It is reported that almost 400 members of tribal groups from Manipur who are currently residing in Delhi, have been holding protest outside Manipur house for quite some time now demanding to revoke the three anti-tribal bills passed by the State government in August last year.

9 unburied bodies, 15 injured protesters and many more unreported instances that may have occurred due to the ILP issue. The Government and the people seem to move in entirely different directions and there seems to be no co-ordination between them. This 'Hill-Valley Divide' has put peace is at stake and lives are being lost. What more will the ILP claim and when will peace be restored are questions still left unanswered.

(By Shweta Raj Kanwar)

(Image source: internet)