Drastic fall in Meghalaya's non-tribal population

SHILLONG: There has been a drastic reduction in non-tribal population in the predominantly tribal state of Meghalaya over the decades.

In fact, in 1972, when Meghalaya attained statehood, the tribal and non-tribal population was in the ratio of 80:20, which now stands at 90:10. This was brought to light in the state assembly on Thursday by legislator Manas Chaudhuri, who moved a motion saying that the fear of influx was based "more on fear than reality".

He pointed out that institutionalised mechanisms in the state like the district councils have been an "abysmal failure" as it has only nurtured "unfounded fear" of influx.

Terming the demand for Inner Line Permit system a "retrograde step," he suggested that the three-tier identity card system must be implemented instead so that genuine residents are not harassed and the issue of illegal infiltration can also be addressed at the same time.

On the other hand, in an effort to check infiltration, the Meghalaya government has decided to set up 17 new police stations along the inter-state boundary with Assam and international border with Bangladesh at a cost of Rs 143 crore.

Chief minister Mukul Sangma said the police stations will be set up to strengthen the border areas against infiltration of illegal migrants. "The police department has proposed that 17 additional police stations be set up in the eastern parts of the state along the inter-state and international border areas," Sangma said.