*By:- Ningthoujam Rameshchandra
“If Inner line permit (ILP) is not implemented in the state at the earliest, indigenous people of Manipur would be crushed down by the migrant population and the present MLAs would not be able to hold the post of even a Pradhan then”, – Sapamcha Jadumani, president of local NGO called Federation of Regional Indigenous Society (FREINDS) has drawn public attention for the re-implementation of ILP system in Manipur during his recent public speaking in Imphal recently (Hueiyen News Service, 2012).
“Migrants Outnember Meeteis; ILP demand to gain momentum sets July 11, 2012, deadline… Alarmed over the tremendous increase in the population of non-Manipuris (Mayangs), Federation of Regional Indigenous Society (FREINDS) has threatened to take resort to various sorts of intense agitations……” (Hueiyen News Service, 2012).
“The migrant population in Thangmeiband, Uripok, Wangkhei, Thoubal, Moreh, Khundrakpam and other Assembly constituencies have the final say during election time, and the most saddening as well as embarrassing part is that Uripok, Nagamapal, Paona Bazaar and Thangal Bazaar are now completely ruled by non-Manipuris (Mayangs), Jadumani observed” (Hueiyen News Service, 2012).
Demand for re-implementation of Inner Lind Permit or in short ILP has been gradually gaining momentum. Valley based clubs, organisations, civil societies; NGOs, etc. are steadily taking part in the demand of ILP system re-implementation. Very recently, Indigenous Kuki People’s Forum (IKPF) and Zeliangrong Students’ Union Barak Valley (ZSUBV) have raised their concern for the imposition of ILP while, Kuki Inpi has also joined the movement by submitting a memo to Prime Minister’s office for the immediate implementation of ILP system in Manipur.
True, the slogans of All Manipur Student Union (AMSU) and All Manipur Students’ Co-ordinating Committee (AMSCOC) of late 70s, early 80s and mid 90s like ‘Go Back Foreigners’, ‘Deport the foreigners’, ‘Inner Line Permit system is the only solution to preserve Manipuri’s indigeneity and to check the influx of migrants…’ was obviously for a good reason. However, how pragmatic is the demand when government of India (Ministry of Home affairs dept.) had out rightly responded that the state government has no jurisdiction to (re) implement Inner Line Permit system? Besides, the official census data (see table no. 1) would not be supporting the agitating groups, as we cannot infer any significant changes in decadal demographic status except, the decadal growth rate of 1951 and 1961, which was coincided with the abolition of ‘Foreigners Permit’ on 18th November 1950. Rather, the growth rate has been declining if we observe the recent development. However, the unenthusiastic response of the Home Minister should not handicap the ILP demand.
Table no. 1
|Year||Population in Million||Decennial Growth Rate in %|
Table2: – Decadal growth of population in India and Manipur (UCM 2005)
If we look at local NGO’s reports or unofficial and invented calculation of illegal immigration in Manipur, the figures are quite horrifying. FREINDS’ report reveals that there are around two hundred thousand Nepalese in Manipur. It further says that fifty percent of the total population of Jiribam subdivision of Imphal East district is comprised of Bangladeshi Muslim migrants. And the presence of immigrants can be undeniably felt in and around Imphal city areas, Khudrakpam constituency, Moreh town, Kanglatombi areas, Mantripukhri, Telipati, etc. (Jadumani in Hueiyen News Service, 2012, also see table no. 2). Based on latest census report, FREINDS claims that immigrant has outnumbered the Meeteis (excluding Scheduled caste) by 13, 103 heads (Hueiyen News Service, 2012).
Table no. 2
Population in Percentage
|Denizens with offspring
|Native Tribal Population (Kuki & Naga ethnic communities)||670,782||29.24|
|Native Meitei and other ethnic communities||918,626||40.05|
Table 1: – Estimated population composition of Manipur for the year 2001 (UCM 2005)
Indeed, it is really disturbing to learn this alarming development in Manipur’s demographical status and this is something awkward. I believe that the demand for ILP system in Manipur should be considered as an inevitable mechanism to check the heavy influx of migrants into Manipur irrespective of state or central government’s jurisdiction. However, my only concern in ILP campaign is that the world should not mistake or perceived Meeteis as a Mayang – (ethno) – phobic community.
Under what circumstances any third party can perceive Meetei as Mayang-phobic? Well, it is equally disturbing to observe the discourses of ILP agitation, be it the campaign of early 80s by AMSU and AMSCOC or the ongoing campaign initiated by FREINDS. Mayang in historical purview are those people who were the inhabitants of Cachar districts of Assam. The erstwhile Meetei kingdom during the reign of Kiyamba came into contact with the Mayang(s) in 1504 C.E (Kabui, 1991). However, Mayang had nothing to do with the people from Cachar for most of the contemporary Manipuris, though it was a known terminology for the Cacharis during sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.
Some local Manipuri scholars try to interpret Mayang as those populations who are non-native, non-Manipuri or to any individual who is a foreigner to native Manipur. I cannot fully agree with this explanation because none of the contemporary Manipuris would say a Chinese or a Thais or a Burmese – Mayang. Mayang, for most of the modern Manipuris indisputably, are those people who have sharp features (broader eyes, sharper nose), brown skin colour etc. ‘or’ apparently the mainland Indians.
Also by summarising the report of United Committee Manipur, 2005 as well as observing the recent daily news reports on ILP demand issue that has been initiated by FREINDS, one can observe that the ILP agitation is tending to give negative signals – the Mayang-phobic and Meetei-centric agitation. If the agitation is all about checking heavy influx migrants to Manipuri, then we must not forget to account of those Burmese Chin-Kuki migrants who can easily intrude into Manipur that shares common ethnic ties with some tribal communities of Manipur.
It must be remembered that the erstwhile sovereign kingdom of Manipur tackled the issue of migrant successfully without any racial biases. The society was also able to integrate the people coming to Manipur. For instances, Muslims who were war captives were offered Meitei women and assigned appropriate Meitei surname. Similar is the case of Brahmins who were migrated from the west – ‘nongchup haram’ (western gate). So there was no problem of migrants in Manipur Kingdom.
Of course, there might certainly be some reason why Manipuri people tend to see ‘Mayangs’ as the prime threat to the demographic structure of Manipur. Baruah’s ‘Nationalizing space’ and India’s developmental paradigm (that attracts or facilitates immigrant) would help us to demystify Manipuri Vs. Mayang in ILP demand. Nationalisations of frontier space either through militarisation or state-facilitate or state sponsored settlement (Geiger, 2008) are one of the ultimate goals for any colonising entity. Obviously, India’s militarisation or developmental projects in Northeastern region in general and Manipur in particular apparently exhibits some covert meanings. Abolition of ILP system in 1951 as well as non-ratification of ILO 169 by India also manifests some hidden implications. Territory of Manipur that acquires a vital geostrategic location that lies on the trade routes of South-Asia, Southeast Asia and Central-Asia, is indeed becoming an inevitable business for India.
Further, the Chinese invasion of early 60s has already exposed India’s vulnerabilities in the north-eastern region. It was the Naga independentist rebellion that begun to make officials of the post-colonial Indian state anxious. Beginning with the China war, the managers of the Indian state began to see the external and internal ‘enemies’ in this frontier region coming together and constituting a looming threat to national security (Baruah, 2007). In such circumstances, India might not be ready to grant another protective discriminatory or autonomy (ILP) to Manipur.
Who will be an illegal immigrant if the agitating entities are demanding to identify foreigners dated from 26th January 1950?
As per section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act of 1955 defines an “illegal immigrant” are those people who enter into Indian Territory: –
(a) Without a valid passport or other travel documents and such other document or authority as may be prescribed by or under any law in that behalf; or
(b) With a valid passport or other travel documents and such other document or authority as may be prescribed by or under any law in that behalf but remains therein beyond the permitted period of time.
Section 3 of the Citizenship Act of 1955 (acquisition of citizenship) says that,
(i) A person born in India on or after 26th January 1950, but before 1st July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.
(ii) A person born in India on or after 1st July 1987, but before 3rd December 2004, is considered a citizen of India by birth if either of his/her parents is a citizen of India at the time of his/her birth.
(iii) A person born in India on or after 3rd December, 2004, is considered citizen of India by birth if both the parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his/her birth.
Section 5 (4) further says that, any minor child can be registered as a citizen of India, if the Central Government is satisfied that there are “special circumstances” justifying such registration. These above mention provisions of the Citizenship act of 1955 together with the fact that most immigrants who entered into Indian Territory have not followed the legal process to become Indian citizens complicate the issue of identifying the illegal immigrants.
Recent economic transformation and the process of class differentiation in India’s northeast region in general and Manipur in particular have provided a significant economic opportunities to new immigrants from neighboring countries as well as from mainland region. Government of India aspires to regulate migration policy since long time. But, it seems not successful particularly in northeast region; and hence illegal cross- border migration has been a concern. By its very nature, illegal migration to northeast region is extremely difficult to measure; and it is far more complex in view of the ethnic ties that the migrants share with the native population (Singh, 2009). More communal ethnic conflict is bound to happen if the govt. does not take up tactful measures. However, taking up measures or to scapegoat upon migrants that migration could cause havoc to place of destination does not mean that migration should be discourage; but the manager of the state or the agitating groups should make a serious effort in the discourse of ILP or formulate a workable migration policy before any untoward could happen.
Political consensus on the issue of migration has been overdue. Tension between the natives and immigrants or amongst the natives are becoming recent phenomena that have been occurred in India’s northeast region due to unabated cross-border migration, which has severe demographic, social and political implication. To campaign against immigration on the other hand tends to divide people on communal lines that may even create tension between natives. However, raising voice to re-implement ILP in Manipur has nothing wrong for any indigenous Manipuris nevertheless, one should be very careful or find different method if the infiltration of migrants has to be checked.
*This article was submitted by Ningthoujam Rameshchandra, EMA Member, who is currently in Spain for his Phd Degree. A detail resume of the writer can be found below:
Writer Profile: Ningthoujam Rameshchandra is currently enrolled for PhD degree program at International and Intercultural Studies at University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain. European Commission through Erasmus Mundus scholarship program is funding his PhD program. His works mainly focuses on migration and conflict, Human Rights etc. He has presented a paper titled – “Colonial Instrument in Democratic India: A Case of Armed Forces Special Power Acts 1958”, at Sustainable Peace Building (SPBUILD) conference held at Universidad de Duesto. He did his Master of Arts in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. He has been part of Gyuja- TATA Project as program officer in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India (2009-10). You can contact him on email@example.com
Baruah, S. (2007). Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Geiger, D. (2008). Frontier Encounter: Indigenous Communities and Settlers in Asia and Latin America. (D. Geiger, Ed.) Copenhagen: IWGIA.
Hueiyen News Service. (2012, July 1). ILP Demand: FREINDS forecast end of Natives, ‘Non Manipuri rule Uripok, Nagamapal, Paona, and Thangal Bazaar area’. Hueiyen Laanpao , p. XX.
– (2012, June27). Migrants Outnumber Meeteis; ILP demand to gain momentum set July 11 deadline. Hueiyen Laanpao, p. XX.
Kabui, G. (1991). History of Manipur (Vol. 1). New Delhi: National Publishing House.
Singh, M. A. (2009). A Study on Illegal Immigration into North-East India: The Case of Nagaland. New Delhi: Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
United Committee Manipur. (2005). Influx of Migrants into Manipur: A Threat to the Indigenous Ethnic People. Imphal: UCM Imphal.
Valeriano, B. (2009). When Does Migration Lead to Interstate Conflict? International Studies Association and Western Political Science (pp. 1-22). Chicago: University of Illinois .
 MLA-Members of Legislative Assembly.
 Pradhan is the village level constitutional elected chief in India’s three tiers Panchayati Raj system.
 The erstwhile kingdom of Manipur particularly during the reign of king Kiyamba (1467 CE – 1508 CE) termed ‘Mayang(s)’ to those inhabitants of Cachar (the present day southeastern district of Assam). See also Kabui, G. (1991). History of Manipur (Vol. 1). New Delhi: National Publishing House, pp. 197-198.
 AMSCOC merged with AMSU after 1980s agitation.
 Census of 2001. Census data of 2011 has not officially come up yet.
 Meetei are the major ethnic community that generally settles in four valley districts of Manipur.
 I intentionally mention only Meeteis instead of all the ethnic communities of Manipur because the agitation for (re)-implementation of ILP is mainly confine within the four valley districts of Manipur.
 See Baruah, S. (2007). Nationalizing Space: Cosmetic Federalism and the Political of Development in Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, Pp. 33-58
 Ibid, also see Geiger, D. (2008). Frontier Encounter: Indigenous Communities and Settlers in Asia and Latin America. (D. Geiger, Ed.) Copenhagen: IWGIA.
 See Baruah, S. (2007). Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
 See Valeriano, B. (2009). When Does Migration Lead to Interstate Conflict? International Studies Association and Western Political Science (pp. 1-22). Chicago: University of Illinois .