Steps to check influx goes on war footing in Meghalaya

Shillong, Sept 20 : The battle against influx in Meghalaya appears to have gained momentum with the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) planning to set up a new department to deal with influx.

After meeting leaders of 10 pressure groups, the council’s chief executive member Pynshngainlang N. Syiem today said they would stringently monitor influx through a strong mechanism.

The pressure groups want the council, created under the Sixth Schedule, to act against illegal migration to maintain the state’s tribal identity. The groups include the Khasi Students’ Union, Federation of Khasi, Jaintia & Garo People (FKJGP), Jaintia Students’ Union, Jaintia Youth Federation, All Jaintia Youth Welfare Organisation, Synjuk Seng Samla Shnong, Hynniewtrep National Youth Front, Ri Bhoi Youth Federation, Civil Society Women’s Organisation and Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association.

Syiem said the last meeting of the council’s executive committee had decided to ask all headmen not to issue any certificate to doubtful persons without the consent of the dorbar shnong (village council).

The dorbar shnongs will be required to register the residents in their respective villages and localities, and to maintain a database in the names of houseowners, tenants and migrant workers within their jurisdiction, he said, adding, “We will issue an order so that these decisions of the council can be implemented.”

Earlier, the pressure groups demanded strict monitoring on part of the council whenever trading and labour licences were issued. “We do not have sincere enforcement personnel in the council. We have asked the chief executive member to monitor and control the enforcement,” FKJGP president Joe Marwein said.

The council has 79 enforcement staff. Syiem assured the groups that more staff would be appointed on ontractual basis. However, the appointments will be done after taking into account the financial status of the council.

He said headmen should be responsible for scrutinising and checking the antecedents of those who enter the state and that the organisations had asked him to pursue the matter with the Dorbar Shnongs.

The groups have also decided to convene a meeting with all the headmen of localities falling within the city limits on September 29 to dwell on influx.

The Meghalaya government has also been forced to address the issue of influx after pressure groups demanded implementation of the Inner Line Permit system in the state.

Early this month, the government had constituted two committees on influx — a high-level committee to be headed by deputy chief minister Bindo M. Lanong and an official committee under the chairmanship of chief secretary W.M.S. Pariat.

In the Lanong committee, the members include four cabinet ministers, the three chiefs of the autonomous district councils, three legislators, one representative each from among the traditional heads (nokmas, syiems and dolois), three prominent members from civil society and three representatives from each of the 10 NGOs.

The committee’s terms of reference include a review of the influx situation, to suggest a multi-pronged strategy, an approach to deal with the issue, examination and outlining of the role of traditional institutions and their empowerment in dealing with influx, recommending a comprehensive institutionalised mechanism and other related matter.

The Pariat committee will review and examine the relevant laws and practices relating to tenancy and their impact on influx, suggest specific measures to regulate tenancy practices and other issues. The committee comprises principal secretaries, commissioners and secretaries, director-general of police, law secretary and the secretaries of the three autonomous district councils.

Both the committees will have to submit their respective reports within two months.