The government has decided to scrap the India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime (FMR) to ensure the country's internal security and maintain the demographic structure of the Northeastern states, Union Home Minister Amit Shah informed on Thursday.
As the Ministry of External Affairs is currently in the process of scrapping it, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recommended the immediate suspension of the FMR, Shah said.
What is India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime?
The Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Mynamar allows people residing close to the Indo-Myanmar border to venture 16 km into each other's territory without any documents.
FMR was a bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar, implemented in 2018 as part of India's Act East policy. Its objective was to boost the region’s economy by enhancing trade and connectivity with Southeast Asian nations.
Features of FMR
- It allowed free movement of people between India and Myanmar.
- The free movement of people from both sides was allowed till 16-km inside the territory of both the nations
However, the government has now decided to scrap the FMR given politicial instability in Myanmar following the military coup in February 2021.
The government said that in view of a better internal security and demographic stability in the Northeastern states, it is scrapping the Free Movement Regime.
Political instability in Myanmar raised concerns over the influx of refugees and militants into India.
The announcement came two days after Shah said that India has decided to fence the entire 1,643-km-long India-Myanmar border.
The India-Myanmar border, which passes through Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, currently has FMR. It was implemented in 2018 as part of India's Act East policy.
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.
The Meitei groups also allege that narcotics are being smuggled into India taking advantage of the unfenced international border.