What is the Inner Line Permit?

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The Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on his two-day visit to the Northeast India, highlighted the importance of Inner-Line Permit (ILP) system in Manipur, while inaugurating several developmental projects in the state.

There are said to be seven developmental projects in total which include – Thoubal multipurpose project,  Rs128 crore IIIT, and the Rs325 crore Churachandpur Medical College along with Integrated Command and Control Center at Imphal, etc.

 

What is Inner Line Permit (ILP)?

  • A concept brought up by the colonial rulers.
  • Implemented under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) 1873, the ILP is an official travel document which allows inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period.
  • An imaginary line known as the inner-line was created to divide between Indian and British communities so that neither party could go beyond the line without a permit from the appropriate authorities.
  • BEFR was enacted during the British era to protect the Crown’s own commercial interests by preventing ‘British subjects’ (Indians) from trading within these regions.

 

Why does it affect population of Manipur?

  • ILP was a long-standing demand of the people of Manipur.
  • Denying it would have been an injustice to the indigenous people.
  • Manipur, along with Dimapur district of Nagaland, was brought under the purview of the ILP System in December 2019.
  • Pressure groups in the northeast view this permit as a shield against the entry of illegal immigrants.
  • Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram were exempted from the provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 due to the ILP.

 

How are CAA and ILP related?

  • The Citizenship Amendment Act exempts a few categories of areas which includes all those protected by the Inner Line system.
  • The provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants would not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under the ILP system.
  • Amid protests against the Act, the Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019, issued by the President, amended the BEFR, 1873.
  • This amendment extended the ILP to Manipur and parts of Nagaland that were not earlier protected by ILP.

The ILP is considered the only mechanism to put control of the influx in Northeast India. Influx is considered dangerous as it could upset the fragile demographic balance of the tribals of Meghalaya. The indigenous tribes living in the hill areas would regularly be in contact with the outsiders leading to the gradual diminishing of their kind and culture Inner Line Permit is required not only for the conservation of land but also for the culture of the tribes.