NRC: Community sounds ILP clarion
Dimapur, Aug. 8(EMN): Civil Society in Nagaland including tribal organisations and students’ groups have begun mounting what is reported to be initiatives to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the state after Assam published the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) on Wednesday put its foot down on the state government’s existing Inner Line Permit (ILP) alleging that it had many loopholes. The NSF states that a proper mechanism should be in place to not only issue permits but to monitor and check validity, which the group alleges is lacking.
The NSF launched on Wednesday what it called ‘the first phase of exercise to prevent influx of illegal immigrants to Nagaland.’ It undertook a major verification drive to check documents of non-Naga persons, after Assam published the NRC.
In the Kohima town, 17 persons were caught without ILP and 18 others who allegedly had expired permits. Nine more persons were caught at the Chumukedima check-gate for not possessing valid documents, NSF president Kesosul Christopher Ltu told reporters this evening. He said it was a matter of great concern that if that many defaulters could be identified, how many more illegal entries could be made in a week or a month’s time.
It was learnt that almost all the defaulters had claimed to be coming from Dimapur, which is the only district in Nagaland to be excluded from the Bengal Eastern Regulation (BEFR) Act of 1873. The students’ group is concerned that one of the biggest threats that the Nagas face today is the number of illegal immigrants settled in Dimapur.
During the course of the day, the NSF officials said, some persons who were detained at Chumukedima had people from Dimapur delivering documents so that they could pass through. This, they said, indicated that there was a network of locals who were helping illegal immigrants.
Also, upon verification, it was reportedly found that the ILP records, names in the voter ID, and names in the documents issued by the panchayats did not tally. The NSF leaders alleged that such clerical errors were being created by the district administration, which only goes on to show that there is ‘no seriousness at all on the part of the district administrations.’
The NSF also questioned the procedure that was followed in permit renewals. “We are ready to provide them (district administration) with proof that there are loopholes in the issuing of ILP,” Ltu said. He pointed out that another problem was the existence of ‘middlemen’ or ‘dalals’ who were running such rackets, collecting ILP cards and renewing them at the DC office for immigrants. The maximum number of ILP defaulters were said to be labourers engaged in construction work with big contractors and firms including those engaged with the construction of the four-lane Dimapur-Kohima road.
Another major the NSF pointed out was that only a few records of people who entered the gate were being maintained but there were no records of those leaving.
“It is necessary to check the documents of both: those who are entering and those who are exiting,” Ltu said. He said some persons were even caught in possession of documents that did not belong to them. Moreover, as per information from NSF volunteers at Chumukedima check-gate, he said most of the drivers of regional taxis did not possess work permits.
Also, the NSF’s General Secretary Imtiyapang said that some of the ILP defaulters had even commented that they could easily pass through check-gates merely by ‘giving some amount of money’ to the personnel at the check-gates. Stating that that bribery was alarming, he pointed out that strict action must be taken against the officials.
The president of the Angami Students’ Union, Visako Rino, also said that the union caught two persons who had no documents except ILP registered with bogus names. He said it was found that contractors were helping them acquire ILP even without supporting documents. He questioned how the persons could even access permits from the district administration.
The persons who were caught were handed over to Kohima police later in the evening.
The NSF has registered the following demands to the state authorities: to thoroughly scrutinise ILPs. For those coming from Assam, their NRC document should be made mandatory
- CCTV cameras should be installed at check-gates at entry and exit points to monitor persons entering or leaving the state; monitor the personnel manning check-gates whether they are performing their duties.
- Organise a public rally and submit a memorandum to the government of Nagaland to bring Dimapur within the ambit of the BEFR.
- Appeal to public for feedback if there is any case of harassment during the verification drive.
- Persons caught as middlemen or ‘dalal’ renewing ILP shall be dealt very seriously.
NTC mobilizes community groups
The Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) also informed on Wednesday that it convened a meeting recently with leaders from a wide range of apex tribal organisations, including students’ groups. The date of the meeting was not mentioned. A copy of a press release that the organisation issued on Aug. 8 placed a number of demands before the state’s administration: “The meeting once again fervently urged upon the state government to gear up the state machineries and bring out a comprehensive action plan to check illegal immigrants without wasting any more time…extend BEFR coverage to the entire administrative jurisdiction of the state and to bring out a comprehensive mechanism to regulate and monitor BEFR Act, 1873 and Passport Act…for effective checking and deportation and extradition.”
Likewise, the government was asked to create a separate cell in the Home department to monitor and strictly enforce the border control statutes ‘on day to day basis.’ Govt. agencies including the Nagaland Police need to be “reoriented and equipped with legal aspects,” the statement asserted.
Further, the organisations have decided on constituting a joint committee ‘on prevention of Illegal Immigration’ under the supervision of the NTC. It will devise a “logistic coordination and to assist the state government to formulate standard operation procedure for effective implementation of BERF Act, 1873 /ILP in the state of Nagaland,” the press release stated.
The organisations have urged apex tribal organisations, and villages and urban communities particularly those in Dimapur, to strictly monitor their respective jurisdiction “on 24X7 alarm.” The village authorities are urged not to issue residence certificates to anyone “randomly without ascertaining antecedents of any such applicant.”
‘Time for govt., community to act’
The Naga Hoho has also issued a statement calling for action from the community and the Nagaland government. The organisation issued a press release on Wednesday stating that “the implementation of NRC in Assam has become a matter of great concern. In a short while this over populated migrant prone state of Nagaland is also bound to be severely affected.”
The latest development that over forty lakh non Indian citizens may have to leave Assam is a warning bell for the entire north-eastern states, the Naga Hoho stated ‘We further like to impress upon the state government to urgently bring Dimapur district under ILP zone and term the current situation as an emergency state crisis.’
While acknowledging the initiative of the NSF and the administration, the Naga Hoho has requested the authorities to ‘strictly man’ check posts, railway stations and the roads connecting to Assam.
“Most importantly, it has become imperative for every tribe hoho to seriously take action on the issue of influx of illegal immigrants particularly to urban areas as we cannot depend on government alone,” the organisation stated. “It has become the responsibility of every Naga citizen to be a contributing factor towards eradicating this menace. In this regard, every house owners/ land owners should not provide shelter to those migrants just for the sake of cheap labor or otherwise.”
The Naga Hoho has appealed to all the Naga citizens to “face the challenges together so as to make our state illegal migrants free.”
Two persons detained at Chumukedima
The Chumukedima police on Wednesday detained two persons who were allegedly trying to cross the check gate “without” legitimate documents.
The NSF, the Chakhroma Students’ Union, and the police on Aug. 8 began checking ILP, Aadhar card, and voter identity card of passengers at the Chumukedima Check Gate.
According to the police, one of the detained persons is from Nagaon district in Assam and the other from Diphupar in Dimapur. Although they claimed to have proper documents at home, the police detained them for further investigation. Further, a First Information Report was filed against them.