Political parties discuss amendment of MRSS Act, CAB, Sixth Schedule amendment

Shillong, Oct 30: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said that the Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act, 2016 will ensure registration of outsiders who enter the state and regulate their stay.

He informed this after chairing an all party meeting on Wednesday to seek views and suggestions of different political parties on the proposed amendment of the Act.

During the meeting representatives of various political parties discussed issues related to the Citizenship Amendment Bill, proposal to amend the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security (MRSS) Act, 2016 and the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule.

Representatives from seven political parties attended the meeting.

“All political parties presented their views and opinions and we have requested them to give them in writing. We also want these kind of consultations to take place at different level to invite other groups and organizations as we have been doing in the past for different subjects,” the chief minister told reporters.

“It is going to be a law to ensure that we can have registration of people who enter the state and those planning to stay for a certain period of time. The idea is basically to register and regulate the entry and exit of people,” he said.

He said that the proposed amendment of the Act is to give more teeth to it.

“This will allow the state government to monitor the entire situation to ensure safety of the indigenous people as well as individuals who are coming to the state,” he said.

The Congress has maintained that it was not in favour of amending the principal Act and asked the state government to implement the MRSSA, 2016 immediately without any delay.

The chief minister however said that implementation of the Act is a process which required lots of coordination from everybody.

“At the same time we felt that while this process of implementing the Act at different stages in the different parts of the state, we also need to amend it in such a manner that it will give slightly more teeth to the Act,” he said.

Sangma said the proposed amendment is being done keeping in mind the interest of the people of the state, the constitutional provisions and also ensuring there is minimum inconveniences caused to people coming to the state.

“We are balancing all of these, implementing the Act as we go along but at the same time amending it to make it stronger to ensure safety of the people is there,” he said.

The Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organizations (CoMSO) has been demanding that the state government to incorporate the provisions of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the MRSSA citing that the entry-exit points (or facilitation centre) are not empowered to take action on illegal outsiders.

When sought for his comment, chief minister however said that the facilitation centres will regulate the entry and exit of people from outside adding there will be other mechanisms as the purpose at the end of the day is to regulate.

Sangma further informed that the state government is also working on the rules to ensure the objective of regulating the entry and exit of people without causing any inconveniences is achieved.

“So balancing these two is really where the challenge lies and we are ensuring the rules that come out after we are going into amending the Act those rules will define what the procedures would be after we pass the Act,” he said.

Asked, the chief minister said all the political parties including Congress were supportive of the state government’s move to bring amendment and their views and opinions will be incorporated in the Act. “But the concern they raised was on the implementation and as I said implementation is a process and we are working on it,” he said.

Meawhile, the chief minister informed that the setting up of the entry and exit points, which was going on very slow for the last four-five years, now have moved very fast.

“The work in the Mendipathar Railway station is going on in full swing. We are hopeful that we are able to make it functional at the earliest but it will not be appropriate for me to say within two months or six months but the work will speak for itself,” Sangma said.

On the government’s stand on the CAB, he said that the stand has been very clear from day one, that the government is not supporting it.

“This is the stand of different political parties too. The Union home minister has reached out to the state government, political parties and organizations and he has been in consultation to understand issues that are there in the CAB, and the concerns that are there,” he said.

“Now the government of India is asking us specifically the points that we are opposing in the CAB. So consultation is taking place and that is why political parties are invited so that we can put our heads together to flag our concerns. This consultation was missing last time as they just put it in Lok Sabha and passed it. I think it is being handled in a different way this time. We are hopeful that from the MHA, they will also come and seek our opinions and from other stakeholders also,” he said.

On Sixth Schedule amendment, the Chief Minister said some political parties have given their opinions and the main discussion was on the ‘unrepresented tribes.’

“We have already conveyed to everybody that the cabinet has decided on this, and the District Council Affairs minister, James K Sangma is in Delhi to convey the same to the Centre,” he added.