Sarma’s revelation that there is no mention of ILP in the report has angered All Assam Students Union.
Guwahati: Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma here on Monday ruled out the possibility of introducing Inner Line Permit (ILP), which is currently enforced in several northeastern states to regulate the entry of non-natives and protect the identities of indigenous people, in Assam.
Mr Sarma said, “There will be no ILP. How can Assam have the ILP system...it can’t. In fact there is no proposal to government for ILP in Assam.”
Pointing out that enforcing ILP in the state will only bring negative development Mr Sarma said, “How will work continue in Guwahati ? Assam’s unemployment figure will shoot up by three folds if people cannot come to tea gardens, Oil India Lim-ited, ONGC...if investors and traders cannot come here. Assam is the gateway to northeast and so how can there be ILP here.”
Mr Sarma further said that even the MHA panel on providing constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to Assamese identity, which recently submitted its recommendation to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, has not made any straight reference to ILP.
The system of travel restrictions a British law, Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) of 1873, was still prevalent in several areas of state for 147 years until it was withdrawn by a Presidential order in December 2019. At present the system is in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. Recently the system was extended to Manipur following mass protests against the CAA.
The clarification of the minister came in the wake of media reports indicating that high power committee formed by ministry of home affairs to give recommendation on implementing the clause 6 of the Assam Accord has proposed introduction of ILP in Assam also.
However, a member of the committee and senior advocate Nilay Dutta in a social media post said, “I have noted with serious concern that completely misinformed and speculative discussions r going on in public domain on the recommendations of the Committee. This is the result of not placing the report in public domain.”
In his tweet Mr Dutta further said, “I have therefore requested all members of the committee to agree to release the report in public domain in the interest of transparency and for an informed discussion on the actual recommendations made therein.”
Mr Dutta who is also the advocate general of Arunachal Pradesh said, “Be it clear that over and above political rights on seat in Assembly and reservations on jobs , there are wide ranging powerful recommendations on development of indigenous languages, culture and heritage as well as issues on reforms in land policy.”
Many believe that implementing ILP in Assam was one of the recommendations of the panel initially but might have been struck off following Centre’s objection. The details of the report have been kept confidential but Mr Sarma’s revelation that there is no mention of ILP in the report has angered All Assam Students Union.
The student’s body president Dipanka Nath, who is also a member of the MHA panel said, “We the members had agreed not to divulge the contents of the report but how someone say anything about the report quoting members of the panel.”