CoMSO observes black flag day, asks regional parties to come clear on ILP issue

Shillong, Apr 23: Anti-influx NGOs under the banner of the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (CoMSO) on Tuesday staged a statewide black flag protest and threatened to further intensify their agitations if the state government remain adamant towards the demand for implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to regulate entry of outsiders in the entire state.

The confederation also demanded the chief minister Conrad K Sangma to immediately convene a meeting of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) as well as the Cabinet and inform about the clear stand of the coalition partners on ILP.

In Shillong, activists were seen putting up black flags and banners in the two main commercial areas – Motphran and Khyndailad amid tight security. Vehicles plying in the city were also distributed with black flags besides pinning of the same on people.

However, when police remove and seize the black flags put up on the railing of the rotary at Khyndailad on ground that it is a government property, leaders of the confederation were seen confronting an officer to give back the flags.

“The black flag day is just the beginning of our agitation to pressurise the state government to implement the ILP system in the whole state,” CoMSO vice chairman and president of the Hynniewtrep Achik National Movement (HANM) Lamphrang Kharbani told reporters at the sidelines of the protest.

Stating that ILP is the only solution to address the influx issue, Kharbani said the confederation is also determined to further intensify its agitations if the state government fails to pay any heed to this long pending demand for protection of the indigenous communities of the state.

CoMSO general secretary and leader of the Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) Roy Kupar Synrem said the confederation also demanded the chief minister to convene the MDA meeting and Cabinet meeting to take the views and opinions of all the coalition partners especially the regional political parties as well as the cabinet ministers on whether they want ILP.

He said the different statements made by the chief minister and deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong have created a lot of confusion adding while the chief minister says that we should not make ILP an issue, his deputy on the other hand had assured that the government is committed to implement the ILP. Tynsong had also informed yesterday that the proposed amendment to the Meghalaya Resident Safety and Security Act (MRSSA), 2016 is to have an ILP-like mechanism in place.

Synrem however said, “We are not concern whether the government implements the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 or bring its own law but our main concern is that the spirit of the ILP should be incorporated in any legislation proposed by the government to address the influx issue,” adding “Therefore, the government should ensure that outsiders entering the state should obtain permit, their period of stay should not be more than 179 days and those without permit should be penalised.”

Asked, the HYC leader said the regional parties like the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), People’s Democratic Front (PDF) and United Democratic Party (UDP) during elections have assured the people of the state to implement the ILP system. However, one year have passed, but we yet to see these same parties which are now in government, put their statements into action.

“Therefore we strongly demanded that the regional parties should also come out clear whether they are for the indigenous people or for their own personal interests,” Synrem said.