The growing call for NRC Detecting illegal immigrants

Centre’s nod needed to introduce or enforce the National Register of Citizens in Manipur-The State Government is ready to enforce NRC but the approval of New Delhi is necessary, is the line maintained by the Chief Minister and while this is understandable and appreciated, one would still want to question, what steps have been taken up to approach New Delhi for this ? This question is important for on the one hand the State Government has been talking of the need to identify illegal immigrants and on the other there have been reports of non-residents of Manipur getting enlisted as voters and even in the PMJAY list. It is following the revelation of some non-residents of Manipur being named in the voters’ list as well as in the PMJAY list, that Chanam Sandrok under Keirao Assembly Constituency has risen as one to demand that the NRC be implemented to identify and mark out the non-residents. There is merit in this call and that this comes close on the heels of the Government having opened up temporary shelter homes to house refugees who have fled the neighbouring country of Myanmar should tell something significant. There are reasons why terms such as ‘indigenous folks or indigenes’ and ‘illegal immigrants’  have gained currency and this could be one reason why the Government at Imphal recently passed an order that no new village with less than a certain number of households would be recognised. The same line may also be read in the blanket ban imposed on transfer of land by way of gift, sale or mortgage from an indigenous person to a non-indigenous individual. In short this means that no land can be transferred to a ‘foreigner’ and this should say something profound. The story of how the name of the historically important Thangjing Ching was found changed to another name, the claim and counter claims over Mount Koubru, the recent stand off between Konsakhul and Leilon village, the announcement of the Chief Minister that house to house survey would start soon to identify illegal immigrants, all reflect something disturbing.
Rather late in the day, but significant to note that the Government has woken up to the pressing need to give some sort of a protection to the land and resources of indigenous folks of the land. The common thread running through the War on Drugs campaign, the drive launched against poppy plantations, the call for NRC, the setting up of the Manipur State Population Commission, the stand off over the base year for the ILP to be effective-1951 versus 1961 cannot be missed and while the Government may be intent on protecting the interests of the indigenous folks, it should also take a long and serious look at the demand raised by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur, the World Meetei Council, Kangleipak Kanba Lup and others to send the recommendations to the Centre to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution. The threat posed to the hills and valley of Manipur via illegal immigration is understood but let it also dawn on all concerned, that while the hills are Constitutionally protected, it is the valley which is open to everyone to come and settle. A look at some of the names given to some localities in Imphal should drive home this point, though some may argue ‘what is in a name ?’