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Manipur: Analysts Skeptical Over CM N Biren Singh’s Move To Deport ‘Illegal Migrants’

Manipur CM N Biren Singh’s announcement to deport ‘illegal migrants’ comes at a time when the state is gripped in the haul of months-long ethnic violence.

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PTI
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh | Photo: PTI
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The analysts are skeptical about Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s move of identifying and deporting those who entered and settled in the state after 1961.

On Monday, Singh made the announcement about his government’s move. However, experts have raised doubts over the viability of the move.

“Those who entered and settled in the state after 1961, irrespective of castes and communities, would be identified and deported," Singh reportedly said.

According to the them, the identification of illegal immigrants was a "welcome step" but their deportation would be difficult unless the foreign countries concerned recognise them as their bonafide citizens.

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Manipur has been rocked by ethnic violence since May last year. The state has been witnessing recurring bouts of violence since ethnic clashes first erupted in May last year. More than 180 people have been killed in the violence, which erupted over demand of reservation to Meiteis in the state.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mainly in the hill districts.

The government has accused a section of immigrants from neighbouring Myanmar of fomenting trouble.

The Chief Minister's assertion came after the Manipur cabinet, in June 2022, approved a proposal to adopt 1961 as the base year for determining the "native status" of residents of the state for effective implementation of the Inner Line Permit (IPP).

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"In order to deport illegal immigrants, the foreign country concerned must accept them as their bonafide citizens. If the foreign country does not recognise the immigrants as their citizens, how will they be deported?" PTI quoted Pradip Phanjoubam, a political analyst, as saying.

Naga leader and Forum for Restoration of Peace convenor Ashang Kashar also reportedly said deportation cannot be done by the Manipur government alone.

"Identification of immigrants is crucial. Those who would be identified as illegal immigrants should not have the rights enjoyed by the original inhabitants. For instance, they should not have voting rights," Kashar told PTI.

The decision to adopt 1961 as the base year for ILP implementation is a "welcome step towards solving issues confronting the state", Phanjoubam said.

"But many of those are living in the state over several decades. They have become naturalised citizens. In case of deportation, there are legal implications that need to be considered," he said.

Last year, a Manipur government official said 2,187 people were staying in the state after Myanmar's military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi there in February 2021.

The Centre has initiated steps to stop a free movement regime along the India-Myanmar border.

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Coordinating Committee (COCOMI), a joint body of several Imphal valley-based organisations, said the Chief Minister's statement showed that the government acknowledged the issue of illegal immigrants who settled in the state.

"This is the core of today's conflict. We can learn from Assam's NRC experience. The first thing to do is to identify the illegal immigrants," COCOMI spokesperson Khuraijam Athouba was quoted as saying.

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