GUWAHATI: Legal scrutiny of an ordinance stands in the way of Meghalaya government’s bid to put in place a law that will make it mandatory for outsiders to register themselves prior to visiting the state and stay here for more than 24 hours.
On November 1, the state cabinet had ratified the ordinance by amending the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016. Subsequently, it was forwarded to Governor Tathagata Roy for examination and approval. He reportedly said as the matter was "serious", he might seek legal advice.
According to the amended Act, an outsider, willing to stay in the state for more than 24 hours, will be required to register himself or herself by furnishing necessary documents to the government. Employees of government and district councils have been exempted from the purview of the Act.
The government had assigned the district task forces, which are headed by district magistrates, to ensure the Act’s enforcement. It had warned of legal action against any person, failing to furnish the required information or providing false document while visiting the state.
The new law is a replica of inner line permit (ILP) which is currently enforced in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. An outsider is required to carry the ILP while visiting these “protected” states.
The Meghalaya government amended the Act to protect the interests of the state’s tribals by checking the influx of illegal immigrants. For years, the influential Khasi Students’ Union has been demanding that the state be brought under ILP regime. The demand intensified following the Centre’s move to get the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed in Parliament to grant Indian citizenship to “persecuted” non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who migrated to India till December 31, 2014.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has been at the forefront of the protests against the Bill across the Northeast.