SHILLONG, Aug 03: Police officials on duty at the Main Secretariat here were taken completely unawares when members of the Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) stormed the premises on Friday morning in demand of the immediate implementation of the Inner Line Permit and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to check and flush out influx from Meghalaya.
Convinced that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) is not paying any heed to the Council’s demands for effective anti-influx laws which gain more importance in the backdrop of the final draft NRC which was released in Assam recently, the HYC had decided to take this course of action.
It was only after the protesters took out placards and start shouting slogans “No ILP – No NRC, No retreat” that the security officials started calling for backup.
“Government of Meghalaya implement ILP & NRC immediately or we will do it ourself or face the music”, “We want strong & effective Law to prevent us from being out numbered in our land by outsiders”, “Government of Meghalaya we remind you that mere press statement to check influx will not save us but law like ILP & NRC will,” – read some of the placards displayed by the protesters in front of the secretariat.
The protest lasted for about 20 minutes and after being informed about the serious security breach in the secretariat, East Khasi Hills District police chief Davis NR Marak immediately rushed to disperse the agitators.
The SP asked the HYC activists to stop their agitation and even threatened to arrest all of them if they failed to listen since no permission from the district administration was given for the protest.
Marak even start pulling two leaders when the activists refused to pay heed to his request and continued shouting slogans. The Deputy Inspector General of Police AR Mawthoh also intervened into the incident.
Later on the assurances of the Dy IGP and SP, the leaders and activists of the HYC agreed to shift their protest to the parking lot near the Additional Secretariat.
“We are compelled to take such step after seeing that even this present state government seems to be not interested in coming up or calling for discussion on the proposed effective laws to protect the indigenous community despite having submitted memorandum and several reminders,” HYC general secretary Roy Kupar Synrem later said.
Stating that there is a serious threat on the state, Synrem pointed out one is the fact that over 40 lakh people have been rejected by the final draft NRC of Assam and the other is Citizenship Amendment Bill which seeks to give Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants.
“While states like Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have implemented the ILP and Assam have conducted the NRC to segregate genuine and non-geniune citizens, but in Meghalaya what law do we have to prevent our people if only 30 lakh of these NRC reject enters the state,” he said.
Also expressing no-confidence on the existing infiltration check gates of the government, the HYC leader said, “Therefore, we strongly demand the government to immediately implement the ILP and also the NRC in Meghalaya as these are only the way to protect the indigenous community,” adding “While the ILP will prevent entry of influx and illegal immigrants, the NRC on the other hand will flush out illegal immigrants who might have entered the state illegal after 1971.”
Synrem said that if the state government remains adamant in its attitude, the HYC will have no other choice but to start implementing the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system on its own.
“We will implement the ILP on our own and ensure that outsiders who are without documents to prove that they are Indian citizens will have to move out of our state,” he said.
Asked whether any deadline will be served to the state government, the HYC leader however said that the Council is yet to decide on the matter but is willing to come forward for talks if invited by the government to discuss the influx issue.
“We want the government to point out which other laws can effectively tackle this problem and the reason for not willing to implement the ILP or NRC in the state,” he said.
Reacting to the recent statement made by the Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong that the state is not contemplating to introduce NRC, Synrem said, “If he (Tynsong) is saying that then that is just his personal view but we are going to put pressure on the government.”
Earlier, the SP said that action against the HYC leaders will be decided after discussion on their failure to take any permission for holding the protest.
When it was pointed out that this is the second time that the secretariat has been stormed in such a manner, Marak said that it is difficult for police at the gates to detect the protesters who did not come there in a crowd.
“I have been told that they came in twos and threes like normal people and not in a group. Some of them had hidden their placards and it was only when they reached the secretariat that they congregated and started shouting slogans,” he said while informing that the police will definitely conduct an enquiry into the incident.