New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday officially extended the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to Manipur, making it the fourth state in the northeast to be brought under its and exempting it from the purview of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

An announcement to this effect was made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Lok Sabha on Monday; he reiterated the same while tabling the bill for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The three states which were already under the ILP are Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland (except parts of Dimapur).

What is Inner Line Permit?

Simply put, the ILP is a government document which is required for an Indian citizen to move into a protected area for a limited period of time, within the country. Tracing its origins from Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations (BEFR), 1873, the document is obligatory for any Indian citizen who wants to go to such areas. The BEFR intended to protect the British monarchy’s interest in tea, oil and elephant trade by preventing ‘British subjects’ from entering into these ‘Protected Areas.’

The term ‘British subjects’ was changed to ‘Citizen of India’ in 1950 but the ILP continued to be used by the government to protect tribal cultures in northeastern India. The ILPs are of different kinds, including those for tourists as well as for those who intend to stay for an extended period of time.

What about remaining northeastern states?

Other states in the region: Assam, Mizoram and Tripura do not come under the purview of the ILP. However, the tribal areas in these states, as well those in Mizoram (which are not under CAB), are exempted from the bill via the sixth schedule of the Constitution.

Why is the northeast protesting against the CAB?

Protests are raging in the northeast as according to people, the implementation of CAB there would lead to a massive influx of refugees from Bangladesh leading to change in demographics in the region. Additionally, the states not under ILP are also protesting to be brought under it completely and thus be exempted from the CAB.