Shillong, November 3 (Hindustan Times): The cabinet of the Eastern Indian State of Meghalaya on Friday okayed an ordinance that necessitates all outsiders to register with the government before entering the state, stating that it was ‘in the interest of the government and people of Meghalaya.’
The National People’s Party- led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government approved the amendment of the Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act, 2016 (MRSSA) in the form of an ordinance. The ordinance, once implemented, will bring into effect inner line Permit (ILP) like requirements operational in Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh that require people from outside the state to register before entering.
After the Cabinet meeting, deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong said, “The amended Act has been approved in the form of an ordinance and it will come into force with immediate effect. The ordinance will be regularized in the next session of the state Assembly.”
“Any person who is not a resident of Meghalaya and intends to stay more than 24 hours in the state will have to furnish information to the government. This is done for their (outsiders) own interest as well as for the interest of the government and people of Meghalaya. They will be much safer,” he said while also maintaining that the provisions of the act will not apply to employees of the centre, state and district councils.
The deputy chief minister said the act is for people who are interested in visiting the state as tourists, labourers, business, education and other purposes.
Tynsong said the decision was also taken after series of meetings were held with the different stakeholders including political parties and NGOs.
Asked about the modalities of registration, the deputy chief minister said people will have to comply with certain rules. “We will redraft the existing rules to ensure simplest procedures are in place for registration, and we will also do the registration online. Once the rules are ready it will be placed before the Cabinet at the earliest,” he said.
Tynsong said that various district task forces headed by the respective deputy commissioners will have to be more proactive, and if required they will be further strengthened.
“We will make sure that the district task force should perform well and ensure that there is no question of delay or harassment,” he added.
In case of violation, the offender will be liable to be punished under the section of 176 or 177 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860.
The MRSSA was passed in 2016 by the then Congress-led MUA-II government as part of the comprehensive mechanisms to check influx and illegal immigration into the state after expressing its inability to implement the Inner Line Permit (ILP).
The Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organization (CoMSO) had earlier maintained that they will not accept the amendment of the MRSSA if the provisions of the ILP are not included. To a query, Tynsong, however, said the Act was passed after a lot of discussion with the stakeholders by the then state government where it was agreed that “we need not go back to the ILP since now we will have our own new act in place.”
“Passing such an ordinance is just to hoodwink the people in case Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) comes into place. They (Govt) have to understand the legislative nuances of the Principal Act. We worked hard to ensure that the Act is passed to protect the interests of our citizens without infringing on the rights of others. If at all some changes need to be made, those can be done subsequently not in such a hurry.” said Congress leader of opposition and former chief minister Mukul Sangma.
(The featured image at the top shows Prestone Tynsong, Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister)