Nineteen organisations representing indigenous communities of Manipur have called for implementation of the National Register of Citizens in the state to deal with undocumented migrants, The Hindu reported on Thursday.
The National Register of Citizens is meant to be a list of legal Indian citizens. It was compiled after two draft versions and excluded 19 lakh applicants when it was published in Assam in August 2019.
Critics fear that the Citizenship Amendment Act, clubbed with the National Register of Citizens, will be misused to target Muslims in the country. The Act introduced a religious criteria to Indian citizenship for the first time by allowing undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to apply for Indian citizenship.
Organisations such as Tangkhul, Zeme, Liangmai, Aimol, Maring and Kom in Manipur have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to set up “centres of operation” to detect and deport foreigners immediately, The New Indian Express reported.
The organisations said that immigrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal had settled down in Manipur since the pass permit or permit system was abolished on November 18, 1950 by former Chief Commissioner Himmat Singh.
“No discerning step was taken on the issue in the last 75 years under the Foreigners Act, 1946,” the organisations said. “This continuous influx and overflow has subsisted within us and taken possession of the socio-economic and political rights of the indigenous people.”
The tribal organisations said that although the Centre extended the Inner Line Permit system to Manipur in December 2019, the indigenous population has not yet been defined, North East Now reported.
The Inner Line Permit is an official travel document that allows inward travel of Indian citizens from other states into Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
The organisations said that they were confident that the Centre would identify the indigenous people, who trace their origin to the seven “Yek Salai”, or homogeneity of clans, based on the “autochthonous” of the land, The New Indian Express reported.
“They are the sole indigenous people of Manipur who habituated and belonged only to this state with records of pre-historic kings who ruled the Yek Salai kingdom,” the organisations said.
They rued that successive governments in Manipur have not identified and deported the immigrants despite two agreements signed in 1980 and 1994.
The organisations said that because of this, they feel that the National Register of Citizens should be implemented, as was promised by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on November 19, North East Now reported.
“In the light of this perception, we call for the implementation of NRC in Manipur to safeguard the genuine citizens,” the groups submitted.
The copies of the memorandum were submitted to Shah, Manipur Governor La Ganeshan and Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh on July 12, The Hindu reported.