Give more teeth to ILPS Paper tiger of a law ?
The next Assembly election is at hand, in fact scheduled for the early part of next year and the BJP led Government at Imphal as well as the other political parties, particularly the Congress, should have taken note of this. This is the time for the BJP to go to town trumpeting what it thinks are its achievements in the last 4.5 years in office or what the BJP Government at Delhi has done for the people of Manipur. Going hammer and tongs against the previous Congress Government will not be enough and this is a point which should be taken seriously. Rather it should be more about what the BJP led Government at Imphal has done for the people ever since it came to power after the 2017 Assembly election. However the manner in which the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) has been going on the offensive over what it has termed the ineffective enforcement of the Inner Line system in the State may just run counter to what the BJP may have rolled up its sleeves. The extension of the Inner Line Permit System to Manipur can be one of the calling cards of the BJP ahead of the next Assembly election, but the manner in which the JCILPS has been pickling holes in the implementation of the restriction on the entry of non-locals into the State of Manipur may just about undo the goodwill the saffron party has received via the extension of the ILPS to the State. Tough to say what difficulties the BJP led Government is facing in enforcing the said System strictly but significant to note that the JCILPS has been in the limelight in the last few days picking holes in the enforcement of Inner Line Permit in the State. This is where the BJP led Government cannot afford to be caught napping and start getting its act together while there is still time. If things are allowed to go on like this for some more time, be sure that the other political parties, notably the Congress will jump in and try to exploit the situation to its advantage. Nothing wrong in the Congress picking holes in the perceived ‘ineffectiveness’ of the BJP led Government to effectively implement an Act which was so ‘thoughtfully gifted’ by the Centre when the North East region with Manipur as the epicentre rose as one to strike a united stand against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (before it became an Act). The extension of the ILPS effectively left Manipur out of the Citizenship Amendment Act, as all States under this regime were exempted from this Act. This was a sort of a master stroke by the BJP led Government at New Delhi for in extending the ILPS to Manipur it managed to kill two birds with one stone, that is nullify the stringent opposition to the then CAB and fulfil the long standing demand of the people that the ILPS be extended to Manipur to regulate the inflow of non-locals at the fag end of 2019.
Two years down the line, since ILPS was extended, and now it seems that not everything has been right with the manner in which the said Act has been enforced in the State, if one goes by with what the JCILPS has had to say on more than one occasion. Even though the said Act was extended to Manipur at the fag end of 2019, reports of non-locals found staying here without the needed ILP documents were regular items in all the major newspapers published from Imphal. Now with Assembly election just round the corner, the JCILPS has picking holes in its enforcement and urging the BJP led Government to do something about it and even launching what it has termed ‘renewed stir’. Maybe this is the right time for the JCILPS to hit out for this is when the BJP would be coming to the people to seek their blessings for another term in office and it is this point which should not blow over the head of the saffron party. Everyone, particularly those in the media will remember how Imphal reeled under the intense stir launched by the JCILPS demanding that the inflow of non-locals into the State be checked via the ILP. The standoff, closure of schools even coaching and tuition classes, the manner in which young students braved the water cannons, tear gas shells and rubber bullets from the police pressed into duty, all in the demand for ILP, the stand off between protestors and cops in the dead of the night, with the cops armed with tear gas shells and rubber bullets and the protestors with catapults and other projectiles, must still be fresh in the mind of the people. It was during such a stand off that a young student, Sapam Robinhood was killed. All these are stark reminders of how much blood, sweat and toil, not to speak of the spanner thrown into the academic pursuit of the young students went into the demand for ILPS and now that it has been granted, there should be no loose ends such as ineffective enforcement. The BJP led Government at Imphal must view the standpoint of the JCILPS with all the seriousness it deserves for it makes no sense for an Act to remain only on paper. No one wants any law to be reduced to the status of a paper tiger.