The issue of influx of outsiders, essentially meaning Indians coming from other states, raises its ugly head from time to time in the hilly states of North-east. The problem never took an alarming turn in some states having inner line permit (ILP) as a measure to check entry of outsiders while others like Meghalaya and Manipur saw worst of violence-marred agitations in recent years. Three persons died and scores of property torched and damaged during the four-month-long agitation by pro-ILP groups in Meghalaya in 2013. While nationalist groups in Meghalaya are silent for the time being, the situation is boiling in Manipur. One student protester has already died after being hit by a tear gas cell while the government has been compelled to withdraw a controversial Bill, allegedly suiting the interests of outsiders. The agitations led by pro-ILP groups are in no mood to relent and street protests with women on the forefront have become the order of the day.
The non-tribal Indians sometimes rue that they feel like second class citizens in these states. They pay the income tax unlike the tribals, yet face the brunt of agitation in the name of protection of tribal rights over land and resources, their customs, traditions etc. The groups leading such movements get massive support from the public. Common people are susceptible to threats of losing rights over land and resources. It’s usual for them to lose temper over such ‘threats’ and take law into their own hands. Besides, vested interests sometimes give religious tinge to such movements, leading to attacks on places of worship of minority communities in the state.
Every time the agitation takes place the government holds negotiations with the pressure groups and some committees are formed to look into the matter. The committee comes up with a report, which does not satisfy the groups who chose the agitation path again. While Manipur had passed a resolution to the Centre in favour of imposing ILP in the state, Meghalaya government somehow calmed the NGOs promising them of a ‘comprehensive mechanism’. The Manipur government’s proposal fell flat at the Centre since it required amendment of the Constitution while NGOs in Meghalaya are frustrated over implementation of the so-called comprehensive mechanism. It seems the government as well as the NGOs want to make alive the issue since it becomes a platform to garner public sentiment, which is of utmost importance for survival of both. As of now, it seems that the problem (if it is so) of influx is headed for no solution and woes’ of common Indians, who don’t belong to any indigenous tribes, will continue for years to come.