Shouting slogans like ‘BJP down down,’ ‘No ILP No Rest,’ Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organizations (CoMSO) on Saturday burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Congress legislator from Assam’s North Karimganj constituency Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha as they staged a protest against the Centre’s delay to approve the resolution for implementation of the inner line permit (ILP) in the state even after a lapsed of one year.
It may be mentioned here the resolution was unanimously passed by the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on December 19, last year following the enactment of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.
The protesters also threatened to launch a campaign against the 60 legislators in 2023, if the state is deprived of its right to get protection under the Bengal Eastern Frontiers regulations 1873.
Addressing at the meeting, CoMSO chairman and Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) chief Robertjune Kharjahrin criticized those who attempted to mislead the people and said ILP is the first line of defence to protect the identity and land of the indigenous people.
“Without ILP, the existing laws like the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, state reservation policy and the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India may cease to exist if local indigenous people are outnumbered in their own homeland, he said.
Condemning the centre for delaying to approve the resolution, Kharjahrin said, “Today was supposed to be a day for celebration since all 60 legislators have unanimously passed the resolution but unfortunately the resolution is gathering dust in Delhi as it is being forcefully held by the prime minister and his union home minister.”
Wishing the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma a speedy recovery from COVID-19, the CoMSO leader however demanded, “As soon as you recover, we demand that you should lead a delegation of all 60 MLAs to Delhi and fight for immediate approval of the resolution by the Centre.”
As he concluded, protesters also shouted “To Delhi for ILP” and “We reject CAA, we want ILP”.
On the other hand, CoMSO general secretary Roykupar Synrem said that the confederation will be compelled to launch a campaign against all the 60 legislators in 2023, if they failed to aggressively pursue the issue and ensure Meghalaya gets ILP at the earliest.
“We had launched an anti-Congress campaign during the last elections in 2018 leading to them sitting in the opposition bench. Therefore, if the state is deprived of its right to get protection under the ILP, we will be bound to launch similar campaign against all 60 legislators in 2023 and this is our challenge,” Synrem said.
HYC vice president Donboklang Kharlyngdoh said if the BJP-led NDA government continues to delay its decision on the matter it should also be prepared of consequences if the indigenous people are forced to take up armed struggle to get ILP.
Hynniewtrep Achik National Movement (HNAM) president Lamphrang Kharbani said that the CoMSO is determined to resort to aggressive agitations next year as mark of protest against government’s apathy attitude towards the demand of the indigenous people.
HNAM vice president, Arphul Kharbani said, “If you (Centre) are not willing to give us ILP, then you should give Meghalaya its independence.”
Meanwhile, the protesters also displayed placards and banners as they accused the BJP of being double standard. “BJP don’t play double standard. Meghalaya BJP says yes to ILP and Central BJP says no. This shows your true colour,” read one of the placards.
“Government of India, if you value the identity of the indigenous people of Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, why not Meghalaya? We too deserve ILP,” cited another placard.