SHILLONG, Nov 05: The Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA), 2016 which was passed by the Government of Meghalaya seeks to ‘facilitate’ influx into the state, according to the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), HS Shylla who has asked the anti-influx pressure groups to reject this Act.
Shylla had made this appeal to the groups after the state government had decided to hold a meeting with the different pressure groups to discuss the implementation of the MRSSA, 2016 on November 15.
“I urge the pressure groups to reject the MRSSA and instead demand the government to speed up approving the KHAD (Inner Line as adapted from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873) Regulation Bill, 2018,” Shylla said here on Monday.
The Bill was passed by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) during its two-day special session held last month (Oct 25-26) with the aim to implement the Inner Line Permit (ILP) for regulating the entry of outsiders into its jurisdiction.
Stating that the provisions of the MRSSA is just the opposite of the ILP, Shylla cited that the then Union Home Minister in his reply to a query raised by Rajya Sabha MP Sabil Ali in Parliament in 2003 had clearly stated, “The main aim of ILP system is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the state where ILP regime is prevalent in order to protect the indigenous tribal population.”
He however pointed out that but section 17 (1) (d) and (3) of the MRSSA states that the “Facilitation Centre shall ensure that no India shall be put to inconvenience or restraint from his or her rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.”
Admitting that Article 19 (1) (d) guarantees to all citizens of India the right to move freely throughout the territory of India, Shylla however said but Article 19 (5) on the other hand allows the state to impose reasonable restrictions for protection of the interest of any Schedule Tribes.
According to him, the definition of state also includes local authority like the autonomous district council as per Article 12 of the Constitution.
“This also clearly shows that the legislators who are instrumental in passing of the MRSSA do not consider Meghalaya as a state of the Schedule Tribe because they have failed to exercise their mind in line with Article 19 (5). Therefore, the people of the state should demand answers from them,” he said.
Shylla further asked all the legislators and their respective political parties who are supporting the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government to realise the serious threat that posed against the state if the MRSSA is implemented.
“We also hope that our counterpart in Jaintia Hills region, the JHADC will also consider not to delay in coming up with a similar Bill to implement the ILP,” he said.
Shylla on the other hand maintained that the state government cannot object or say anything on the KHAD (Inner Line as adapted from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873) Regulation, 2018.
“We have come up with this Bill based on the direction of the state government issued through a letter signed by the Under Secretary of the District Council Affairs department on April 19, 2017,” he stated.
He also said that moreover, the operation of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation which is listed under the United Khasi-Jaintia Hills District (Application of Laws) Regulation, 1952 still operates till today as per a Supreme Court ruling.
“Like every other piece of legislation, the regulation continues to operate and remains effective until it is either annulled or repealed under some legislative power,” Shylla stated.
It may be mentioned here that the state government had passed the MRSSA, 2016 as part of its comprehensive mechanism to check influx and illegal immigration into the state. This was also done after the government had expressed its inability to implement the ILP when the demand was at its peak from the pro-ILP groups in 2013.
Meanwhile, the present state government had earlier decided to revisit the MRSSA, 2016 with the aim to further strengthen and making the Act more effective.