Manipur Proposes Extension of India-Myanmar Border Fencing Amid Rising Immigration Concerns
Manipur Government to Extend India-Myanmar Border Fencing
In an attempt to curb the rising influx of illegal immigrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has confirmed discussions to extend the India-Myanmar border fencing by an additional 70 km. This move comes as the Chief Minister previously appealed to the central government to terminate the “free movement regime” along the India-Myanmar border, a policy that allows individuals living near the border to travel 16 km into each other’s territory without documentation. Singh argues that this policy plays a facilitating role in illegal immigration.
Meetings with Border Roads Organisation and Other Officials
A series of meetings were held by the Chief Minister with the Border Roads Organisation, state police, and the Home Department to deliberate on this plan. The Border Roads Organisation, known for undertaking projects related to the development of roads, bridges, and airfields in hostile environments, plays a significant role in supporting the armed forces. These environments are often avoided by private enterprises due to security concerns or environmental challenges. The plan to build an additional 70 km of border fencing along the India-Myanmar border is seen as a crucial step in addressing the increase in illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Manipur, sharing a 400-km border with Myanmar, has less than 10% of its border fenced, making it vulnerable to these issues.
Addressing Key Areas of Concern
Experts believe that if fencing the entire border is not feasible due to topographical and financial constraints, then key sections of the international border, which witness the highest illegal immigrant infiltration, can be easily fenced. During the meetings, Singh emphasised the importance of focusing on real issues within the state, including dealing with illegal immigrants, welfare activities for internally displaced people, and combating large-scale poppy cultivation. The proposed fencing would serve as a significant step towards addressing these issues.
Manipur’s Struggles with Ethnic Violence
Since May, Manipur has been grappling with ethnic violence, resulting in over 175 deaths and several hundred injuries. The violence erupted following a tribal solidarity march protesting the demands of the valley-majority Meiteis for Scheduled Tribes status. While the state is gradually starting to recover, occasional clashes between security forces and troublemakers continue. The proposed extension of the border fencing is likely to be an essential part of the measures to restore peace and stability in the region.
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