Guwahati: Outsiders visiting Meghalaya will now have to register under the new Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRRSA), 2016, that will come into effect after being regularised in the next Assembly session.
The state government recently approved an ordinance that replaces the amended MRRSA under which registration on entry is mandatory for any outsider intending to spend more than 24 hours in any part of Meghalaya.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said non-tribals who are permanent residents of the state, as well as central and state government employees, will not fall under the purview of this Act.
“The permanent residents of Meghalaya, whether tribals or non-tribals, need not worry. This Act is meant for people who intend to visit the state as tourists, labourers, or for business transactions and other purposes. They will have to comply with certain guidelines under the new Act,” said Tynsong.
“We have one proviso under Section 4 (a), which states any person who is not a resident of Meghalaya and intends to stay for more than 24 hours in the state should furnish information in the manner prescribed under the rules,” he said, adding that anyone found violating the Act would be tried under provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The MRSSA was passed by the then Congress-led government in 2016 as part of a comprehensive mechanisms to check illegal immigration, in lieu of the Inner Line Permit (ILP). Tynsong said when the Act was first passed, its focal point was on tenants.
The instructions had been given to all landlords to make sure that papers were in place and they should inform the traditional community heads (Rangbah Shnongs, Dollois and Nokmas), he added.
The new rule is also seen as a fulfilment of the long-pending demands by the state NGOs to protect the rights of tribals and check the influx of illegal migrants into Meghalaya. The Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) had been pressing for the implementation of the ILP system in the state — it already exists in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, and outsiders visiting these states need to carry an ILP.
Tynsong said visitors to Meghalaya can also register online under the amended Act - the District Task Force headed by District Magistrates will be entrusted with the registering exercise. The state government would first re-draft the rules of the Act to keep the registration process “simple”.
The Conrad Sangma government has been vociferous against the Centre’s move to enact the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who fled their countries of origin due to religious persecution.
There was an increasing demand to enhance vigil against influx of non-indigenous people in the hill state, following the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
The updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was released in August with the authority conducting the exercise shutting out the citizenship claims of over 19 lakh applicants.
(With inputs from PTI)