Anti-migrant agitation resumes in Manipur

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Imphal, Feb 17 (IANS) An umbrella group demanding an Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in Manipur resumed its anti-migrant agitation on Wednesday, and said workers from outside the state who do not have work permits will be handed over to police.

“On the first day of resumption of the campaign, we pasted posters in many parts of Imphal town asking people not to sell land to the migrants, hire them for construction and other odd works,” said Khomdram Ratan, convener of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS).

“Our volunteers have started checking the identity cards of migrant workers. Those who want to work in Manipur should have work permits from the labour department. Those migrants who have not done so shall be handed over to the nearest police station,” he said.

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Police were present during the campaign, but did not interfere.

The JCILPS said it was not happy that the Manipur government has been silent on enacting three bills to Acts since they were passed by the legislative assembly in August last year.

The Manipur assembly will have a short session from March 13 to 19, and Ratan said the group would be holding agitations during the session.

Tribals in Manipur have been opposing the three bills describing them as “anti-tribal”. The government has been maintaining that there is no clause in the bill which is against any community.

Violence erupted on September 1 last year following the state government’s adoption on August 31, 2015 of three landmark bills — Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (seventh amendment) Bill 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishment (second amendment) Bill 2015. The bills are pending with the president.

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Nine tribal youths were killed in violence in Churachandpur district. Houses and properties of several elected tribal representatives were torched.

Ratan on Wednesday said the JCILPS shall hold talks with those against the bills and he was hopeful that an understanding would be reached.

Even Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang, who had recently come to attend a festival in a hill district in Manipur, described the bills as unconstitutional and anti-tribal.

The Inner Line Permit system is currently in place in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

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