Manipur BJP government’s firm stand to protect locals, Assam BJP government takes opposite stand

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At a time when elected BJP government in Assam has been taking stand for rehabilitating the Hindu – Bangladeshi migrants in Assam, the BJP government in neighbouring state of Manipur has adopted measures to protect the identity and culture of indigenous communities of the state.

The Manipur People’s Protection Bill 2018, a long-pending demand, especially of the dominant Meitei community of the valley, was passed in the state assembly by the BJP-led government on July 23 last.

The BJP government in Manipur took the measure after years of violent demands for protection against the influx of outsiders. The Bill seeks to put in place regulations similar to the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS).

The Bill currently is waiting for Governor’s assent. If it becomes an Act, it will compel “non-Manipuri” people to obtain a permit before entering the state.

According to the Bill, Manipur people include Meiteis, scheduled tribes as listed under the Constitution in terms of Manipur and all those citizens of India who have been living in Manipur before 1951. The rest have been put in the category of non-Manipuris and will have to register themselves within one month of the notification of the law.

They will be issued a pass extendable up to six months. While those who have trade licences can get a pass extendable up to five years, which will have to be renewed every year. Any outsider visiting Manipur would need a pass.

All tribal communities in Manipur welcomed the move of the BJP government. But non Manipuris living in the state protested passing the Bill in the state assembly.

On Wednesday, Jiribam in Assam – Manipur border saw a huge protest against the new Bill. All Jiribam United Minority People’s Organisation carried out a protest rally in the border town. The protest turned violent and in police’s action of lathi charge, tear gas shell firing and firing, six protesters were injured . The injured were admitted at the Silchar Medical College Hospital in Assam.

The incident at Jiribam comes ahead of the publication of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens in Assam to exclude foreigners illegally staying in the state. The NRC is being updated under the supervision of Supreme Court.

The BJP government in Manipur has taken firm steps against illegal migrants, unlike the Assam government, which seems soft towards Hindu Bangladeshi migrants.

Centre’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, facilitating Hindu Bangladeshi migrants who had entered the state till December 31, 2014 to become citizen in the country, faced strong opposition from all the indigenous communities in Assam; because if the Bill is passed in the Parliament it will pose a threat to the identity of indigenous communities. But the BJP government in Assam is yet to take any action to save the identity and culture of indigenous people of the state.

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