Safeguarding the indigenous identities of thousands of communities must be the interest of India as a composite nation.

That the Manipur State Assembly passed a historic resolution for implementation of ILP system in Manipur clearly means that the sixty representatives of the people of Manipur has whole-heartedly taken the responsibility to safeguard the indigenous identity of Manipuris. It is deplorable that the fate of an Assembly Resolution lies on the nod of the Central Government. The matter should not end on the “Think of the Nation” tag, which needs further elaboration. Interests of federating units are the interests of the nation. Compositeness of India as a nation needs to be preserved by safeguarding the identity of indigenous peoples in the country.

‘Unity in diversity’ is the unique feature of India as a nation. Innumerable communities with varied cultures and traditions, languages and dialects, identities and histories adorn the country. India as a nation is composite in all respects. While nurturing the identity of India as a composite nation, we need to preserve the identities of the thousands of groups inhabiting in the nook and corner of the country. The Constitution of India gives room for such valuable safeguards.

Implementation of a law to regulate the entry and settlement of outsiders in Manipur, and to safeguard the identity of the indigenous Manipuris is in the national interest. The demand for Inner Line Permit system does not restrict lawful entry of Indian citizens in Manipur. It only implies the need for state regulation of their entry and settlement in the state. ILP is both constitutional and legal. ILP will only help in the peaceful settlement of outsiders in Manipur for various purposes. It facilitates the growth of indigenous people and at the same time promotes harmony between indigenous people and immigrants. Besides recognizing the identity of immigrants, the Inner Line Permit system will protect the non-manipuris who visit the state for education, business or treatment in times of crises. ILP is a mechanism for bringing about peaceful co-existence among various peoples staying in Manipur. India’s spirit of unity in diversity will be more enlivened with the implementation of this system. Moreover, the system will also help in preventing onslaught of illegal immigrants from outside the country. The lawful regulation of entry of outsiders in Manipur would not, in any way, hurt the interests of the nation. May be with these merits, that the State Assembly already passed a historic resolution and forwarded the same to the Union government for approval.

Notwithstanding the approval or otherwise of the Centre, it is obvious that the indigenous people of Manipur and the State Assembly representing them have endorsed the move for regulating entry of outsiders as per the law of the land. Now the matter lies in the fact that the Central government flatly disapproves the proposal for implementation of ILP system. ‘Think of the Nation’ has been the reply of the centre in response to the State Assembly Resolution. If a State Assembly Resolution loses its importance in such a manner, then the principle of Democratic Federalism is apparently at risk in India. The state representatives need to convince the union government of looming national interest involved in the demand for regulation of outsiders. If the Assembly Resolution was taken with sincerity and commitment, the matter need not lie in the hands of the civil society organizations. As the sixty MLAs of Manipur have already taken the responsibility to such an initiative, they are required to handle the matter till the Assembly Resolution gets its meaning.

It is very unfortunate that the State Government has the habit of remaining adamant until and unless it is provoked with violence and vices. Each and every issue in Manipur needs some kind of strikes and agitations to reach the eyes and ears of the government. The old matter of ILP has reappeared recently only when the Joint Committee on ILP System started the civil society vigil on entry of outsiders. Of course the people of Manipur and the state government have the same objective in respect of the implementation of Inner Line Permit system in Manipur. However, the apparent rift between the agitating civil society bodies and the state government in matters of demanding ILP will be an unfortunate turn at this juncture. At least the State Assembly, the Government, the civil society organizations and the people of Manipur as a whole should be unanimous in the process of pursuing the central government for implementation of ILP. As the highest law making body of the state, the ongoing state assembly session will hopefully transact the business of convincing the central government on the involvement of national interests in the ILP system.

Regulation of entry and settlement of outsiders into Manipur will decide the future of indigenous Manipuris. The sixty members of Manipur Legislative Assembly are required to unanimously adopt a strong re-iteration on the implementation of ILP system in Manipur. The Honorable State Legislative Assembly needs to give a befitting and rationale reply to the centre’s “Think of the Nation” tag.


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