Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma wants to take a leaf out of Assam’s book – he has said his Government will examine the demands for update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the hill State along the lines of the one in Assam.
A report appearing in the The Telegraph quoted Conrad as saying in Guwahati on Saturday, “There have been demands for NRC update in Meghalaya; but whether it will be done or not our Government and the Cabinet will have to examine in detail,” Conrad, who helms the National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance Government, said here on Saturday. “Protecting rights of the indigenous people is our topmost priority. But what mechanism has to be adopted and how it is to be done will have to be discussed and debated,” the Chief Minister said.
The report also stated Conrad as saying that the entire NRC update exercise was a “complex issue and all pros and cons would have to be weighed before taking a final call”.
The influential Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) had demanded an NRC exercise in Meghalaya like it is being done in Assam. The KSU had met the Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on August 1 last and submitted a petition through him to the Chief Minister, seeking an NRC update in Meghalaya.
The demand for an NRC exercise was raised in Meghalaya in the wake of publication of the final draft of the NRC in Assam on July 30 in which names of over 40 lakh people were not included. The KSU also demanded that 1971 be made the “cut-off year for carrying out NRC update in Meghalaya to segregate genuine and non-genuine citizens”.
Apart from the KSU, chairman of the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya John F Kharshiing had sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to extend protocols, similar to the Assam Accord, to Meghalaya and update the NRC to weed out illegal migrants.
On reports about harassment of people from Assam entering Meghalaya following publication of the complete draft of the NRC, Conrad said some NGOs had set up check points in areas bordering Assam to prevent entry of suspected illegal migrants.
“The issue has been resolved after we told the NGOs that the Government will take all necessary steps (to prevent entry of suspected illegal migrants from Assam). There has been concern in Meghalaya about the NRC update in Assam and its ramification on our state. The idea is not to harass people but being careful and on alert,” Conrad said.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had spoken to Conrad recently over phone and requested him to ensure smooth movement of people and vehicles from Assam to Meghalaya. Meghalaya has tightened vigil along its boundary with Assam and there were reports about police, administration and NGOs stopping people from Assam who did not possess any document, from entering Meghalaya.
There had also been demands for introducing inner-line permit (ILP) system in Meghalaya to prevent entry of illegal migrants. The ILP is an official travel document issued by the Centre to allow travel of an Indian citizen into some States and Union Territories, including Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, for a limited period.