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The Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) on February 16 said all the 60 legislators have fooled the people of Meghalaya on the issue of inner line permit (ILP).

The statement came a day after BJP national general secretary, Rituraj Sinha asserted that the ILP issue needs to be deliberated post-election when responding to a query as to why the party manifesto was silent on this long pending demand of the people of Meghalaya.

Sinha had claimed that a lot of people had argued that ILP was restrictive which could result in significant opportunity loss to the tourism sector.

In a statement on February 16, KHNAM vice president Thomas Passah said the ILP issue has been pending with the central government for the past four years.

“And now BJP general secretary Rituraj Sinha has said that ‘the ILP issue needs to be deliberated post-election’. The question is: Has the ILP been kept locked in some of the almirahs in Delhi? How much more do we need to deliberate?” he asked.

Referring to the state of Sikkim as one of the most important tourist states known nationally and internationally, Passah said: “But even in Sikkim there are two types of restriction in place-Restricted Area Permit (similar to ILP) and Protected Area Permit, and these restrictions have not compromised the tourism of the State but have only boosted it. Therefore, to say that ILP will affect the tourism of the state is totally incorrect.”

He said the objective of the ILP is not to stop anyone from entering the state as authorized to every citizen of India by Article 19 (d) (e) of the Indian Constitution, but it is just a system to merely keep checks on those entering the state in a way of a reasonable restriction as authorized under Article 19(5) of the Indian Constitution states: “Nothing in sub-clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe”.

Further, Passah said that the past government and all 60 MLAs have fooled the people of the state on ILP through a resolution passed in 2019, “wherein they have chosen not to make any attempt to ensure that ILP is put in place to safeguard the identity and interest of the tribes of the state”.

Passah then stated that the removal of the Khasi-Jaintia word from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) is a clear violation of clause (3) (a) of Article 372 – “Nothing in clause (2) shall be deemed – (a) to empower the President to make any adaptation or modification of any law after the expiration of (three years) from the commencement of the Constitution”.

“Our state government and our political parties should have challenged such notification by the President of India since it has no leg to stand on. The power to modify or make an amendment with regard to such pre-Constitution laws at any point of time lies only with the Parliament,” he added.

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