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Manipur Meitei bodies welcome decision to fence India-Myanmar border, Naga, Kuki outfits oppose move

Indo Myanmar border

IMPHAL, FEBRUARY 7: Imphal Valley-based Meitei organisations have welcomed the Centre’s decision to fence the entire 1,643-km-long India-Myanmar border, while Naga and Kuki bodies in Manipur said “it is not acceptable to them”.
In a post on X, Shah on Tuesday said the Narendra Modi Government is committed to building impenetrable borders.
“It has decided to construct a fence along the entire 1643-kilometre-long Indo-Myanmar border. To facilitate better surveillance, a patrol track along the border will also be paved”, he said.
The move could virtually put an end to the Free Movement Regime (FMR) prevalent along the porous border. The FMR allows people residing close to the India-Myanmar border to venture 16 km into each other’s territory without any document.
Manipur shares at least 398 km of border with Myanmar of which 10 km have been fenced.
Coordinating Committee (COCOMI), a joint body of valley-based civil bodies, welcomed the decision to fence the India-Myanmar border but cautioned that no land areas of the State should be compromised during the process.
M Dhananjoy, Assistant Media Coordinator of COCOMI told PTI, “Had this (border fencing) been done 30-40 years back, we would not have seen the violence we are seeing today.”
“Porous borders have undoubtedly led to massive smuggling of drugs threatening the lives of the youths and influx of illegal immigrants have caused enormous demographic changes threatening the indigenous population of Meiteis and State Nagas”, Dhananjoy said.
“The border should be sealed with fencing, we welcome it but it should be exercised in such a way that no land area of the State is lost”, he said, adding that “the entire people want border fencing”.
As to objections raised by some groups that fencing will cut off their relatives, Dhananjoy said “Meiteis also have a significant population in Myanmar due to historical events. But we are not making it an issue for the greater interest of the State”.
Fencing along the border has been a persistent demand of the Imphal Valley-based Meitei groups which have been alleging that tribal militants often enter into India through the porous border.
Meitei groups also allege that narcotics are being smuggled into India taking advantage of the unfenced international border.
However, Naga bodies in the State are concerned over the development and made their stand clear that border fencing and cancellation of FMR “is not acceptable” to them.
President Ng Lorho of the United Naga Council, the apex Naga body in the state, told PTI, “We are against border fencing and cancellation of FMR. Whatever Union Home Minister said is not acceptable to the UNC.”
“As for the drug smuggling and illegal immigration from Myanmar to Manipur, we urge the Union Home Minister to find alternative means and to find other means to counter these”, Lorho added.
Tangkhul Naga Long, a prominent body of Tangkhul Naga tribe in Ukhrul and Kamjong district of the State that shares border with Myanmar, told PTI, “Our stand is very clear. We do not approve of fencing along the India-Myanmar borders and cannot be accepted”.
When asked about the menace of drug smuggling and illegal immigration, Kashung said “smuggling of drugs from across the border is not through the Ukhrul district but mostly from other areas”.
The announcement by Shah to fence the India-Myanmar border came a few days after a meeting with Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Kuki organisations too have expressed “opposition” to the border fencing of India-Myanmar border fencing.
Kuki Inpi Manipur in January had said the “abrupt” fencing will not address “complex challenges”.