Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on December 14 said an ordinance passed by his government for mandatory registration of outsiders entering the State is awaiting the Governor’s approval. He brought up the issue at a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi late on December 13.
Like other parts of the northeastern region, Meghalaya also witnessed protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Mr. Sangma said 63 people and eight policemen had been injured in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and a curfew was imposed in some parts. Internet remained suspended.
A delegation led by Mr. Sangma met Mr. Shah on December 13 night and demanded that some “protection” on the lines of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) be also implemented in the State.
Mr. Sangma said the Amended Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Bill (MRRSA) 2019, similar to the ILP, which was passed by the Cabinet in the form of an ordinance in November, still awaited Governor Tathagata Roy’s assent. Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are under the ILP system and have been exempted from the Citizenship legislation.
‘Aim is not to bar entry’
“There are misconceptions around the ordinance, it is not to bar outsiders from visiting the State. It is an information collection mechanism and anyone who wants to come to our State has to register beforehand online or on reaching here. It is for the security of the State and also the person coming here. We told the Home Minister that the ordinance awaits the Governor’s nod and he assured that he will exercise his mind,” Mr. Sangma told The Hindu.
Mr. Sangma said 97% of Meghalaya was exempted from the amended Citizenship Act under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The government had demanded that it be extended to the remaining parts as well.
“The Home Minister asked us to go back and celebrate Christmas and has assured us that the issue will be resolved soon,” Mr. Sangma said.
Mr. Shah, during an election rally in Jharkhand on December 15, said the responsibility of protecting the cultural identity and political rights of the northeast States lay with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Yesterday, Meghalaya CM met me and told me the problems. I understand these are not problems at all. Even then they demanded some changes and I told Sangma ji that first you get free from Christmas celebration and after that we will look for a positive solution,” Mr. Shah said.
On December 14, several protesters took out a rally till Raj Bhavan in Shillong and demanded that Mr. Roy sign the ordinance. Many protesters were hurt.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Roy had tweeted that the country was once divided in the name of religion. “Democracy is necessarily divisive and if you do not want it, go to North Korea,” he tweeted.
Mr. Sangma’s National Peoples Party (NPP) is an ally of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). Meghalaya MP Agatha Sangma, also his sister, voted in favour of the Citizenship Act in Lok Sabha last week.