Meghalaya chief minister focus on north-east influx

ITANAGAR: Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma expressed concern over the unabated influx of illegal migrants into the northeast region and asked New Delhi to take corrective measures before the situation goes out of hand.

"The northeastern states, which share international borders with many countries, are vulnerable to influx due to lack of proper monitoring and need to be guarded as much as Jammu & Kashmir in north India," Sangma said, while participating in the fourth edition of North East Cultural Festival, which kickstarted at Naharlagun near here on Wednesday.

Terming the influx problem as one of the core issues confronting all the northeastern states, the chief minister stressed on the need to address it through involvement of all stakeholders, including various indigenous institutions of the region.

He said often citizens of neighbouring countries make desperate infiltration attempts from the other side of the border because the northeast is a better place for income generation with a peaceful environment to live in compared to their own countries.

"Today, Tripura and Assam are the worst sufferers and the problem may crop up in other states of the region in the near future if corrective measures are not taken immediately," Sangma pointed out.

The northeastern state governments should evolve a common strategy with a regional approach in order to start official border trade with neighbouring countries at the earliest for the mutual economic benefit of the entire region and other neighbouring countries, Sangma suggested.

"Such a step will help minimise foreign nationals' tendency of migrate to the northeast from other sides of the border," he said and added that there was a need to get the complete support of non-indigenous communities to discourage influx into the region.

"We must integrate ourselves for our socio-economic development and must workout for a NE-specific policy on illegal migrants so that the rights of the indigenous population are protected," he added.