Inner Line Permit
- Recently, Tribal organizations in Meghalaya again started demanding the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system for restricting the entry of outsiders into the State. These demands have turned into violent protests across the state.
- The demand for Inner Line Permit in Meghalaya has been a demand for the last more than two decades and Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has been leading it from the front.
- The Inner Line Permit is an official travel document that allows Indian citizens to stay in an area under the ILP system.
- The document is currently required by visitors to Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
- The ILP is issued by the concerned state government and can be availed through applying online or in person.
- The permits issued are mostly of different kinds, provided separately for tourists, tenants and for other purposes.
- The document states the dates of travel and specifies the particular areas in which the ILP holder can travel. It's illegal for the visitor to overstay the time granted in the permit.
Need for ILP
- To preservation of indigenous culture and tradition.
- To prevent illegal migrants and encroachment by outsiders.
- In 1873, under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, the British, in a bid to protect the Crown's (commercial) interests, framed regulations restricting the entry and regulating the stay of outsiders in designated areas. The Act was brought in to prevent "British subjects" (Indians) from trading within these regions.
- However, after partition in 1950, the Indian government replaced “British subjects” with “Citizen of India” and retained the ILP to protect the interests of the indigenous tribal communities of the Northeast.
Provision for Foreigners
An ILP is only valid for domestic tourists. For foreign tourists provisions include:
- Manipur: No permit is required. But have to register them.
- Mizoram: No permit is required. But need to register.
- Nagaland: No permit is required. However, they need to register.
- Arunachal Pradesh: Tourists need a Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
Should Meghalaya be brought under ILP?
- ILP means a lot to the tribals in Meghalaya given the pressure on their economy among others.
- The locals believe the migration of illegal immigrants to the state could be checked only through the ILP.
- Influx is perceived as dangerous because it could upset the fragile demographic balance of the tribals of Meghalaya.
ILP and CAA Connection
- The Citizenship Act enables non-Muslim refugees (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians) from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived in the country before December 31, 2014, to obtain Indian citizenship.
- Although the rest of mainland India is protesting the Act for being anti-Muslim, for the northeast, the worry is entirely different. If the Act is implemented without the ILP, then the beneficiaries under CAA will become Indian citizens and will be allowed to settle anywhere in the country.
- However, the implementation of ILP bars the refugees from settling in the states under the ILP system.
- Assam and Tripura have been up in arms against the Act because these states share the longest borders with Bangladesh and have been subjected to the highest influx of Bengali-speaking undocumented refugees since the partition.
- Further, the Northeast is home to 238 indigenous tribes that constitute 26 percent of the region’s population and the tribal leaders state that continued influx of Bengali-speaking refugees will threaten their identity.