Meghalaya government 'open to idea of NRC'

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Shillong : The ruling National People's Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government on Monday said it is open to the idea of conducting National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation exercise in the state, on the lines of Assam.

"NRC is a new concept in the state and the state government is open to the idea that has emanated from the people of the state that such an exercise should be also carried out in Meghalaya as it was done in Assam," Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong told journalists.

He said various groups and political parties are also supporting the idea of NRC.

"We will discuss this issue (NRC)," the Deputy Chief Minister said, adding that the government would further strengthen an existing law to be able to come up with comprehensive mechanisms to deal with the problem of influx in the state.

Tynsong, along with Home Minister James Sangma, held a meeting with the HynNiewtrep Youth Council (HYC), an organisation demanding introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP) and preparation of an NRC to detect illegal Bangladeshi immigrants residing in the state.

ILP is an official travel document issued by the Union government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/ restricted area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from other states to obtain permit for entering into the restricted areas.

"We will review and revisit the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016, and would refer the matter to the law department to study in-depth so as to strengthen the act and make it a comprehensive one," he said.

During the meeting, the HYC said that the existing act, the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016, would not be able to curb influx through mere setting up of entry/ exit points, and demanded incorporation of more clauses into the act to be able to monitor movement of outsiders who enter Meghalaya via the entry and entry/ exit points.

The HYC reiterated its demanded from the state government to come with a law and incorporate in it the spirit of British-era ILP.

"Checking of documents of people from outside at entry/ exit points should not be relied only on electoral photo identify card (EPIC). Like in Assam, there are lakhs of people who have EPIC, but their names are not included in NRC," HYC president Robertjune Kharjahrin said.

He said that law enforcing authorities should insist on other documents, too, and those who enter Meghalaya should be given some kind of a permit which explains everything including the days of stay and purpose of their visit.

The HYC also suggested that transit pass which is valid for 48 hours should be issued to travellers who pass through Meghalaya to reach other states.