Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma said that entry-exit points proposed to be set up to check influx is an infrastructure, and the Inner the Line Permit (ILP) is a mechanism while agreeing that though the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was stalled, influx issue continues to be a concern.
The chief minister said this on Friday while replying to a question how the government would go about setting up the entry-exit points which involved huge amount of money, while implementing the ILP is cost effective.
“Entry-exit point is the infrastructure and ILP is the mechanism. We need to have a system and even if the ILP is there, how will you check if you do not have a system in place. Therefore, the infrastructure will be put in and what will be the best mechanism to put into place which will balance out the concern for illegal immigration as well as the economy. That is where we are going to work out a system that will balance the two. We are not close to any idea but that is where we would like to explore something which will suit our economy, suit our people and suit our state,” Conrad told reporters.
The government requires over Rs 1,000 crore to set up all entry and exit points in different parts of the state.
“We have finalized the location for setting up of entry-exit points in four to five areas where there is maximum flow of people. Hopefully in the next four months, we will be able to start the work in East Jaintia Hills, Ri Bhoi, West Khasi Hills, North Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and it is in a stage where we can start the construction work at any time,” he said.
He informed that the government has almost completed the permission for entry-exit point at Mendipathar railway station in Garo Hills.
“Within few days, the home minister and urban affairs minister will be visiting Mendipathar railway station. Advance steps have already been taken and the entry-exit point would be opened very soon in Mendipathar
When pointed out that influx is still an issue even after stalling the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Conrad said, “I agree that influx and illegal immigration is an issue, it has been an issue and it will be an issue in the coming years too. That is one of the reasons why the sentiments against the CAB were so strong and everybody is concerned about the illegal immigration. There is no right or wrong mechanism that we can put in place, but we can keep improving the system and keep tightening it.”
The chief minister said that the government was open to exploring all possible ideas to balance out between the mechanism that is going to ensure that illegal immigration does not take place, but at same time ensure that the economy is not affected be it tourism or any kind of investment.
“That balance has to be maintained, and the government has to be careful and take all aspects into consideration before putting in place a proper policy or a system,” he said.
Conrad, who led a delegation from the North East to Delhi to meet several political leaders and MPs to seek their support to oppose the CAB, was considered a “hero” especially after Bill was not passed in Rajya Sabha.
Conrad however said, “I have repeatedly been saying that it is not one person responsible for this. Everybody has done their part and one person or one level or one party that moves forward but a collective effort. I think pressure and movement from the allies (of the NDA) and from within is something important to the people of North East. We have seen the situation, and we are not here to blame anybody or say it is because of A, B, C, D. But it is an effort from everybody. What important is the unity that was shown when this issue came up and it was amazing to see the kind of unity that was there from student bodies, organizations, political parties have shoulder to shoulder fighting for this cause. That was really a strong message that I would like to stick to.”
On Leader of Opposition, Mukul Sangma’s statement that the Bill would have been passed in Rajya Sabha if Congress was not there, the Meghalaya Chief Minister said, “I am not the kind of person who plays politics with important issues like these, but we all know even within the Congress there are people who supported the Bill. But I do not want to get into politics, and here we all stood together and I have been maintaining from day one that it is a team effort that we found so many political parties and organisations to come together.”