By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) The long-pending demand for the introduction of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Assam may come true any time after February as the Centre is learnt to be considering the move as the preliminary report of a high-level committee on Assam Accord’s Clause 6 suggests its need.
Set up to frame measure to safeguard the interest of Assamese people, the 14-member committee is learnt to have suggested the introduction of ILP, as well as reservation of seats in the Legislative Assembly and local bodies, and in employment for them.
Clause 6 of the 1985 Accord provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
Officials, in the know of the developments, indicated that the Ministry of Home Affairs would take its final decision on ILP based on the final report of the committee, which was on January 15, given one more month time to finish its task.
The preliminary report of the committee and the ongoing protests in Assam against newly-passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which left Assamese apprehensive given their experience of unabated infiltration for decades, led to various discussions in the Ministry over introduction of ILP in Assam, an official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told IANS.
“The ILP issue in Assam has gone through various deliberations in the Ministry since it has received the Clause 6 committee’s preliminary report. As the committee is set to submit its final report on February 15, the Centre would announce its decision on ILP accordingly,” the official said.
All visitors, including people from other states of the country, need permission to enter the ILP regime states. It also provides protection to the locals with regards to lands, jobs and other facilities.
The main objective of the ILP system is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the designated states in order to protect the indigenous population.
Home Minister Amit Shah last month told Parliament that the high-level committee on Clause 6 would safeguard the interest of Assamese people from the CAA.
The panel was first set up in January 2019 but had to be dissolved as its chairman, former IAS officer M.P. Bezbaruah, and four others quit protesting against Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019. The committee was reconstituted with 14 members in July 2019, with Gauhati High Court’s former judge Biplab Kumar Sarma as the new chairman. It was asked to give its report by January 15 this year.
Amid the furore over the CAA, the Home Ministry on January 15 gave one more month to the committee to submit its report on assessing quantum of seats to be reserved in the Assam Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people.
Clause 6 also provides for detection and deportation of all illegal immigrants who have entered the country after 1971 and living in the state, irrespective of their religion. The cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners for the rest of the country is 1951.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had also recently met Amit Shah to discuss various aspects of Clause 6.
As the ILP provision does not exist in Assam and the CAA only exempts the state’s tribal areas, included in the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule, from implementation of the act, signs of discontent are already emerging in remaining areas across the region.
The CAA says its provisions “do not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under ‘The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873”.
Thus the act does not apply to the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur which come under the ILP regime as well as to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, as specified in the Sixth Schedule. Manipur is the fourth state where the ILP regime has been introduced. This was done on December 9, 2019, thus insulating one more state of the northeast from the CAA.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])