Detecting foreign elements Pressure on land
It is disturbing. Even as demand to conduct a National Register for Citizens with 1951 as the base year is gaining traction, comes the report that seven Myanmar Nationals have been detected and detained at Bir Tikendrajit Airport on April 11. Top this off with the public statement of Chief Minister N Biren that out of the seven Myanmarese detained, one of them was found to be residing at Churachandpur and things certainly look more disturbing. A case of illegal immigrants from the neighbouring country merging with the local population and this is something that cannot be taken lightly. This also points to the distinct possibility of many more such cases, all cases which have so far gone undetected and in the process have merged with the local population. It does not and should not end here. This is only about one out of the seven Myanmar Nationals detected and detained at BT Airport, but how about the others ? Where were they headed to after landing at the airport ? Moreover how did they go to Pune in the first place and for what ? Common sense says that all the seven must have passed through Manipur while on their way to Pune earlier and this is where lies the story of Manipur being reduced to a sort of a transit point for illegal immigrants from across the border to proceed to other parts of the country. The question at the moment is, when did they enter Manipur ? Where did they stay before heading towards Pune and where were they planning to move after they landed here ? With whom did the man who is reported to be residing at Churachandpur put up with ? Did he stay as a tenant ? These are all questions at the moment, but questions which may help the Government better understand the number of such immigrants who have entered the State illegally and who have merged or are in the process of getting merged with the local population. This point is all that more important given that the State Government has identified some places where temporary Shelter Homes have come up to house some of the immigrants from Myanmar who have fled their country following the volatile situation there. Perhaps a periodical update on the number of such refugees staying at the Shelter Homes may help the people understand the number of refugees who have entered Manipur. What are the mechanisms that have been put in place to monitor the movement of the refugees at the Shelter Homes ? The Government need to spell this out for public consumption, in the backdrop of the fact that the demand for an NRC is gaining momentum with some student organisations having joined hands to identify and weed out all illegal immigrants.
The task at hand is no doubt mammoth, but the Government would need to ring out the message that Manipur is not a ‘free zone’ and certainly not a place for anyone to just come, settle and add to the issues and problems of the people and the land. It is for this reason why the State Government recently passed an order to prohibit transfer of land to non-indigenes. A clear case that the scare of the indigenous people of the land being reduced to a minority in their own land is a distinct possibility that cannot be brushed aside that easily. Resources of the land and by resources one should understand this as being inclusive of the air that one breathes, the water that one drinks and the land that one tills. But when Reserved and Protected forests are encroached into then it is a sure sign of the immense pressure that is being exerted on land, the space for human settlement. This is where it becomes necessary to study population growth and study minutely the quantum jump in population of certain groups of people. What is at stake here is Manipur and her limited resources. The Inner Line Permit System is already in place here and it is only logical that the next step should be the NRC. All are measures to protect the preserve the natural resources of the land and the people. On the other hand the call to monitor the activities of the inmates of the Shelter Homes should be heeded with the seriousness it deserves.