India-Myanmar border attracts fresh attention, Free Movement Regime in focus

india myanmar border attracts fresh attention free movement regime in focus (2)

india myanmar border attracts fresh attention free movement regime in focus (2)

Last updated on February 8th, 2024 at 07:50 am

India’s Union home minister Amit Shah made a significant announcement on X on Tuesday, highlighting the country’s decision to fence the entire 1,643-long India-Myanmar border that runs along Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram in the northeast.

The decision is likely to put an end to the Free Movement Regime (FMR) that allows people residing on either side of the international border to enter 16 km into each other’s territory without a visa and stay up to a couple of weeks as many share ethnic ties.

Shah also noted that in order to facilitate better surveillance, a patrol track is also set to be paved along the border. Last month, the minister said the India-Myanmar border would be protected like the Bangladesh frontier.

Factors behind decision to fence India-Myanmar border

Recently, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Mizoram chief minister Lalduhoma expressed opposition against any move to set up barbed wire fencing along the India-Myanmar border. Lalduhoma and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also discussed the issues last month.

Sources said the decision was taken after the security establishment recently flagged how over 500 Myanmar army soldiers had crossed into India in the last three months to escape ethnic cleansing, according to Telegraph India.

People familiar with the matter said the soldiers took refuge in Mizoram after their camps got captured by Arakan Army (AA) militants – an ethnic armed group in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Manipur shares a 398 km-long border with the neighbouring nation.

Leave Rakhine: India to advisory to citizens in Myanmar

The international border is porous and it leads to influx and free movement of rebels and cross-border smuggling, according to a security official. Furthermore, there are allegations that illegal immigrants from Myanmar are behind the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued the first advisory for Indian nationals in Myanmar following a sharp downturn in the security situation, asking citizens to immediately leave Rakhine state, reported Hindustan Times.

“In view of the deterioration security situation, description of means of telecommunication, including landlines, and severe scarcity of essential commodities, all Indian citizens are advised not to travel to the Rakhine state of Myanmar,” the advisory said.

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