36-hour bandh begins in Meghalaya today

SHILLONG, Dec 10  – A 36-hour bandh has been called from Tuesday morning across Khasi-Jaintia Hills by NGOs demanding implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya to check influx.

The bandh would come into effect from 5 am of Tuesday and would end on Wednesday at 5 pm. The bandh would not be enforced in the Garo Hills, the NGOs said in a statement. Instead there would be night road blockades on December 10 and 11 in Garo Hills that would be enforced from 8 pm till 5 am on both the nights.

After the bandh, the NGOs have called for office picketing on December 13 across the State.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has rejected introduction of the ILP saying that it is a “Colonial Act” and has nothing to do with the present day situation. The Government on the other hand is having consultations to draft a Tenancy Act, which it says would address the issue of influx.

The NGOs recently held a massive rally to garner support for its demand. The NGOs have stepped up their pressure on the government after the Congress-led State Government said that it has received a letter from the Central Government stating that ILP would not be implemented in the State.

It has been said that the Centre has informed that ILP would continue in States where it is being currently implemented like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, but the travel permit would not be introduced in any new State. The NGOs have raised a legal point stating that the “Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873, better known as ILP, is very much applicable in Meghalaya,” and the State Government does not need the approval of the Centre on “reintroducing” the Act in the State. All it needs to do is circulate a notification of its re-introduction, the NGOs have argued.

Meanwhile, this evening there was a heavy rush in the city with people hurrying to get essentials and carrying out Christmas shopping ahead of the bandh. There was tremendous traffic snarls and the markets were crowded with buyers in the busy Police Bazaar and Iewduh (Bara Bazaar) markets.