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'If things were normal, this would not have happened': Jaishankar on fencing of Indo-Myanmar border

The fencing of the border will 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 documents.

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi Aizawl Published on: April 11, 2024 16:34 IST
Lok Sabha Elections, S Jaishankar, Indo-Myanmar border
Image Source : PTI (FILE) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

Lok Sabha Elections 2024:  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that if the situation in neighboring Myanmar were normal, there would be no necessity to fence along the Indo-Myanmar border or end the Free Movement Regime (FMR). He emphasised that the decision to fence the border was made by the Centre because it gives top priority to the country's security.

It is pertinent to mention that thousands of people from Myanmar sought refuge in several northeastern states, particularly in Mizoram, after escaping their country following a military coup in February 2021.

Jaishankar made these remarks while addressing reporters after the release of the BJP manifesto in Mizoram's Aizawl. "I think the security of our country, security of our states, including Mizoram, require us to take certain precautions. But the precautions that we are taking right now are in response to a certain situation. Even right now our neighbour is going through a very difficult phase. If things were normal in Myanmar, this would not have happened," he said.

'Important to take precaution'

He emphasised that the government is highly attentive to the concerns of the people, as well as the traditions, customs, and relationships along the border. "Right now it is important that we take that precaution. So we want people to understand that this is a response to a situation today," he said while talking about the proposed border fencing and the abolition of the FMR.

Centre to fence Indo-Myanmar border

The government in February this year announced the decision to fence the 1,643-kilometer-long India-Myanmar border in another step to boost the country's security and abolish the Free Movement Regime (FRM) between the two countries. The FMR allows people residing close to the India-Myanmar border to venture 16 km into each other's territory without visa.

With India sharing a 1,643-km-long border with Myanmar and Mizoram having a 510 km border, the move has faced opposition from the Mizoram government, civil society organisations and student bodies, as they believe that it will "disturb close contact between ethnic communities of the two countries." The Mizos share ethnic ties with the Chins.

The Mizoram Assembly passed a resolution on February 28 opposing the border fencing and the FMR abolition. While the Mizoram government and various civil society organizations have strongly opposed these measures, Chief Minister Lalduhoma stated that the state government lacks the authority to challenge the Centre's decision if it chooses to proceed with its plan.

Indo-Myanmar border currently has Free Movement Regime

The 1,643-km-long 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.

(With PTI inputs)

Also Read: India to spend $3.7 billion to fence Myanmar border, cabinet approval pending: Report

Also Read: Govt to fence entire 1643-km long Indo-Myanmar border, says Amit Shah

 

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