The Indian Constitution gives all Indian citizens the freedom to live and work in any state of the country. However, certain areas in the country enjoy protected status and require authorization from the concerned state government to visit them. Inner Line Permit (ILP) is the official travel document that allows Indian citizens to travel to a state-protected under the ILP system.
No person can visit the protected states without a permit or overstay beyond the period specified in the permit. The Government makes an effort to regulate movement in certain areas lying between the International boundary or the so-called "Inner Line" of the country.
How Did the Inner Line Permit Come into Existence?
The concept of the Inner Line Permit stems from the colonial era. Under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR) 1873, the British framed regulations restricting entry to certain designated areas. The aim was to protect the Crown's interest in the tea, oil, and elephant trade by preventing "British subjects" (Indians) from entering these areas.
After Independence, the Indian Government replaced "British subjects" with "Citizens of India." Though old, the law continues to be used to protect the interest of the indigenous/tribal population from outsiders belonging to other states.
Who Issues the Inner Line Permit?
The respective state government issues the Inner Line Permit. The permit can be obtained online or directly from the government office. The ILP details the date of travel and areas inside the state where the permit holder can travel. However, a non-citizen wishing to visit the state requires a special Protected Area Permit (PAP), which is significantly difficult to obtain than the ILP.
States Which Require Inner Line Permit in India
Currently, the Inner Line Permit applies to five Indian states:
The ILP in Arunachal Pradesh is issued by the secretary (political) of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh. Temporary visitors are usually granted a 15-day permit which is extendable. On the other hand, persons taking employment in the state and their immediate family members can get a yearly permit.
The Government of Mizoram issues an ILP for entering the state through any check gates across the inter-state borders. A temporary ILP is typically valid for 15 days, extendable to another 15 days or one month in exceptional circumstances. One can also obtain a regular ILP with the sponsorship of a local resident or government department. The same is valid for six months and can be renewed twice, each for six months. In addition, a traveler arriving by air can obtain an on arrival permit at the Lenpui Airport in Aizawl.
The Government of Nagaland issues an ILP for entry in Nagaland. Earlier, no permit was required to enter Dimapur, Nagaland's largest city and port head. It was brought under the ILP regime in 2019.
The ILP was extended to Manipur on 11th December 2019 after President Ram Nath Kovind signed the order to this effect. It is the fourth North Indian state where the ILP regime is applicable.
The Government of Lakshadweep issues an entry permit for visiting the island territory. However, it is relatively difficult to obtain an ILP because of the many rules and regulations.
How is the Inner Line Permit Connected to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)?
The CAA relaxes eligibility criteria for specific categories of refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who seek Indian citizenship. However, the introduction of ILP bars refugees from settling in protected areas, safeguarding the states from the heavy influx of migrants. An ongoing protest demands the ILP system in other Northeastern states, including Assam, Meghalaya, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
FAQs About Inner Line Permit
Q.1) Who issues the Inner Line Permit in India?
The Inner Line Permit is issued by the respective state government of the protected states in India.
Q.2) Which states in India are covered by the ILP regime?
The five states covered by the ILP regime in India are Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, and Lakshadweep.
Q.3) When was the Inner Line Permit extended to Manipur?
The Inner Line Permit was extended to Manipur on 11th December 2019.