In a significant move aimed at bolstering internal security and safeguarding the demographic structure of the north-eastern states, India has taken decisive action regarding its border with Myanmar.
This strategic decision, announced just two days after Home Minister Amit Shah’s declaration of India’s commitment to fortify the 1,643-km border, underscores Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unwavering determination to ensure the integrity of the nation’s borders.
The Union Home Ministry, citing paramount concerns for internal security, has recommended the suspension of the India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime (FMR). This regime, which previously facilitated border crossings of up to 16km without the need for passports or visas for citizens of both nations, is now slated for suspension in alignment with the government’s resolve to fortify national security.
Home Minister Amit Shah emphasized the imperative nature of this decision, highlighting the necessity to preserve the demographic composition of the north-eastern states while ensuring the security of India’s borders. The scrapping of the FMR aligns with the government’s broader vision of establishing impenetrable borders, as articulated by Mr. Shah earlier this week.
Significant progress has already been made towards fortifying the border, with a 10-km stretch in Manipur’s Moreh already fenced and two pilot projects underway, employing a hybrid surveillance system. Additionally, plans for fencing approximately 20km in Manipur have been approved, marking tangible steps towards realizing the government’s commitment to border security.
The decision to suspend the FMR and fortify the border is a response to the escalating ethnic violence in Manipur, particularly between the Kuki-Zo tribes and the Meiteis. The unchecked entry of illegal immigrants from Myanmar via the FMR has been identified as a contributing factor to the unrest, underscoring the urgency of this security measure.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh of Manipur has voiced support for the suspension of the FMR, attributing the region’s security challenges to the policy’s misuse by insurgents, illegal immigrants, and drug traffickers. His administration’s endorsement further strengthens the government’s stance on the issue.
However, the decision has not been without its controversies. While Mizoram has expressed opposition to the suspension of the FMR, citing concerns about separating people of the same ethnic group living on either side of the border, the government remains steadfast in its commitment to bolstering national security.
The India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime, implemented in 1970 and revived in 2016 under the ‘Act East’ policy, has served as a mechanism to facilitate familial ties and cultural exchanges between communities on both sides of the border. However, in light of evolving security challenges and the imperative to maintain internal stability, the suspension of the FMR emerges as a strategic imperative in securing India’s borders.
In conclusion, India’s decision to suspend the India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime reflects a proactive approach towards enhancing internal security and safeguarding the nation’s borders.
As the government progresses with its plans to fortify the border, it reaffirms its commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens while upholding the integrity of its territorial boundaries.