From our Special Correspondent
IMPHAL, July 6: The leaders of the Federation of Regional Indigenous Societies (FREINDS) have withdrawn their Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding the implementation of the Foreigners’ Act 1948, to facilitate discussion on the issue of illegal immigration and re-introduction of Inner Line permit in the Manipur Assembly, to be taken up perhaps early next week.
It may be recalled that on December 15, 2011, the then MLA Okram Joy of the Manipur People’s party had tabled a private member’s resolution on the re-introduction of the ILP. Most of the MLAs were in favour of the motion. However, the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi informed the House that since one PIL is pending in the law court, discussing or taking a resolution on this matter would tantamount to the contempt of court. Sapamcha Jadumani and Joy Chingakham of the FREINDS, have however been clarifying that there is no issue of the ILP in the court case. The organization had filed the PIL praying for the implementation of the the Foreigners’ Act, 1948 to check influx and speed up deportation of the aliens. They could not understand why the Chief Minister had clubbed these unrelated issues in his reply to the House.
Talking to reporters, the two leaders of FRIENDS said they have withdrawn the PIL from the law court so that there could be a free and unfettered discussion on the ILP issue in the House. Since there is no restraining factor, the leaders hoped that the House would take a resolution considering the growing demand of the people for an ILP.
They further announced that like-minded organizations, both in the valley and hills have formed the “Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System” to spearhead the people’s demand. Now the FRIENDS will stop waging a lonely war and that this committee will do whatever is necessary. The FRIENDS had started the campaign of mobilizing the people from 2005. Many sections have expressed gratitude for enlightening on this matter. They said that if the campaign was not launched, they would not have been aware of the threat the people face from the increasing migration of the outsiders. All these years, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi has been basically against the restriction of the migration of outsiders. He said, that the constitution allows all Indian citizens to go and settle anywhere in the country. Of course, he was speaking it in the context of the killings of the migrants by some armed persons. However, his statement speaks clearly of his mindset.
Manipur earlier used to have restriction on the entry of the outsiders. However, on November 28, 1953 a commissioner, Himmat Singh had lifted the restriction. Since then, people from all parts of the country have been coming for permanent settlement. There are big villages of these outsiders and foreigners in Manipur. Some of them have been trying to control the administrative reins by contesting elections.
Indications are that the ruling Congress is taking the issue seriously. If the issue is not properly discussed, it will lose the faith of the people. Ibobi’s stand that the Constitution permits Indian citizens to stay anywhere in the country will not hold water now. The ball is now in the court of the Congress.