Manipur Calls for End to Indo-Myanmar Free Movement Regime

Manipur Calls for End to Indo-Myanmar Free Movement Regime
Posted on 25-09-2023

Manipur Requests Permanent End to Indo-Myanmar Free Movement Regime Due to Border Security Concerns

The Manipur state government has called upon the central government to permanently terminate the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the Indo-Myanmar border. The Chief Minister of Manipur has highlighted that the FMR has become a major obstacle in the state's efforts to control the influx of illegal migrants from Myanmar through the border, which lacks proper fencing.

Indo-Myanmar Border Overview:

  • The Indo-Myanmar border stretches for 1,643 kilometers.

  • Indian states sharing this border include Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram.

  • A significant portion of the border has been demarcated, with only two un-demarcated sections remaining: Lohit sub-sector of Arunachal Pradesh (136 kilometers) and Kabaw valley in Manipur (35 kilometers).

Security Concerns along the Border:

  • Secessionist movements, particularly the demand for Greater Nagaland, have contributed to instability along the border.

  • Insurgents in India's North Eastern states have ties with groups in Myanmar, receiving support in various forms, including political backing, economic assistance, and military training.

  • The porous border serves as a safe haven for insurgents.

  • The region is a hotspot for narcotics smuggling, with drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle (Northern Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar) affecting India.

  • Synthetic drug trafficking to and from Myanmar is a growing concern.

Border Management:

  • The Assam Rifles, known as the "Friends of the North East People," are deployed to guard the Indo-Myanmar Border.

  • Modern equipment such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Battle Field Surveillance Radar (BFSR), and Laser Range Finders are employed for border security.

  • Border fencing initiatives are underway to combat infiltration, contraband smuggling, and illegal activities.

  • A Comprehensive Border Infrastructure Project aims to enhance border infrastructure.

  • Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) and the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) are part of a comprehensive approach to border management.

Free Movement Regime (FMR):

  • The FMR is an agreement between India and Myanmar that allows tribes residing along the border on both sides to travel up to 16 kilometers inside each other's territory without a visa.

  • The FMR was aligned with India's Act East policy and aimed to facilitate local trade and business.

  • However, it has faced criticism for inadvertently supporting illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling.

  • The FMR has been inactive since 2020, initially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and later because of its suspension by India in September 2022 following the military coup in Myanmar.

Issues Raised by CM of Manipur:

  • The Manipur Chief Minister has requested the permanent freezing of the FMR, citing its hindrance to efforts to control illegal migration and drug trafficking.

  • Manipur is working towards implementing a National Register of Citizens and border fencing with Myanmar.

  • Concerns have been raised about the deployment of security forces, as they are often found guarding the border well inside Indian territory.

  • The issue of refugees and illegal migrants has become prominent, with a significant influx of Myanmar's tribals into Manipur and Mizoram, seeking shelter due to the situation in Myanmar.

In September 2022, approximately 5,500 illegal immigrants were apprehended in Moreh, Manipur, with 4,300 individuals being returned to Myanmar after recording their biometrics.

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