india mulls terminating free movement regime fmr with myanmar officials
Last updated on January 4th, 2024 at 06:16 am
In an effort to manage the influx of illegal migrants and insurgents, the Indian government is planning to terminate the Free Movement Regime with neighboring Myanmar, according to officials. The FMR got implemented in 2018 as a component of India’s Act East Policy.
The 1,643 km-long India-Myanmar border, spanning the four Indian states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, currently operates under the FMR – a policy meant to permit people living near the border to travel 16 km into each other’s territories without a visa.
Chaos engulfing FMR policy along Indo-Myanmar border
But concerns have been raised over the FMR policy being misused to facilitate “illegal immigration, drug and arms trafficking”. The government of Manipur, in addition to other northeast states facing the issue, highlighted the matter before the Centre earlier.
Free Movement Regime allows individuals belonging to the hill tribes, being citizens of either India or Myanmar and living within a 16 km radius on either side of the border, to cross with a border pass valid for 12 months. People can stay up to a couple of weeks per visit.
An official privy to the plan being prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs stated: “We plan to terminate the FMR along the Indo-Myanmar border shortly. Our aim is to install fencing along the entire border … Individuals entering will be required to obtain a visa.”
“The objective is not only to halt the misuse of the FMR, which insurgent groups exploit for attacks on the Indian side before escaping to Myanmar, but also to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants and disrupt networks involved in drug and gold smuggling.”
Illegal immigrants allegedly involved in unlawful activities
Several allegations claim following the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, a huge portion of tribal population of the country crossed into India, particularly Mizoram and Manipur, and stayed illegally – and subsequently engaged in serious unlawful activities.
Mizoram shares a porous border spanning 510 km with Myanmar, and Manipur’s border with the country spans roughly 390 km. Meanwhile, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh share 215 km-long and 520 km-long borders with the Asian neighbour.