Manipur: Demand to ban ‘outsiders’ grows
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When the Monsoon Session starts two months from now, the Manipur Assembly will have to tackle a growing demand regarding the reinstatement of Inner Line Permit in the state. While the Restricted Area Permit disallows non-Indians from entering sensitive areas such as Arunachal Pradesh without prior permission, and was also applicable to Manipur earlier, the Inner Line Permit restricts Indians from other states (non-Manipuris) from entering the state without permission.
Initially a quiet movement which began in 2005 — with the state recording an increase in the non-Manipuri population — the demand has now become high-pitched due to several Manipuri NGOs, students' bodies and an organisation named FRIENDS (Federation of Regional Indigenous Societies).
In the recent Assembly elections, a stiff opposition from FRIENDS resulted in two candidates, who happened to be Nepalis, stepping down. "A couple of years ago a Nepali from Kanpopki constituency contested and won. The outsiders have taken over Manipur's business, culture, administrative services, and before you know it they will take over the governance. This cannot be allowed," says Dr L Khomdon, advisor to FRIENDS and one of the key members of the movement.
According to Sapamcha Jadumani, president of the organisation, the growth rate of Manipur population was 12.8 per cent in 1941-51 which jumped to 35.04 per cent between 1951-61 and 37.56 in 1961-71 after the permit system was abolished. "According to the 2001 census the population of Manipur was 22,93,896. Out of this, 7,51,822 was the strength of the majority Meitei population, the tribal population was 6,70782, Mayang (outsider) population was over 7 lakh. This means there are more outsiders than tribals. There is only a difference of 40,000 between Meiteis and outsiders. Thus, there is a danger of indigenous Manipuri population being wiped out along with their culture, history and language. In 1946, there were just 64 Nepali homes, now they account for 3 lakh,'' adds Sapamcha.
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