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Biren: Urged Centre to freeze free movement pact with Myanmar – Times of India

GUWAHATI : Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh on Saturday said the state has requested the Centre to permanently freeze the Free Movement Regime (FMR) agreement of 2018 between India and Myanmar that allows people residing near the international border to travel 16 km into each other’s territories without any document.
At a press meet in Imphal, Singh said this free movement regime has been the biggest impediment in Manipur’s efforts to curb the influx of illegal migrants from Myanmar through the unfenced border. “We have informed the home ministry that because of this regime we are not being able to control the influx from Myanmar.
Our government has requested the home ministry to cancel the free movement regime. Also, security forces instead of being deployed at zero point, were found guarding the border 14 to 15 km inside Indian territory,” he said. Assam Rifles (AR) has been deployed to monitor and check infiltration across the border. “Our priority is to stop the illegal influx from Myanmar. For that we need immediate fencing of the border. I am told that the home ministry has issued a work order to BRO to fence about 60 km of the Indo-Myanmar border,” he added. India temporarily suspended the FMR agreement in September 2022 following the unrest in Myanmar, but the influx continued due to the porosity.
The unfenced border across a harsh terrain has always helped Indian insurgent groups based in Myanmar for hit-andrun operations inside India. The Indo-Myanmar border runs for 1,643 km along Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Manipur alone shares around 390 km of porous border with Myanmar and so far, 5.6 km of the border along the state’s Tengnoupal district has been fenced. The CM claimed that the present situation was a result of unplanned policies of the previous governments, and not an immediate aftermath of any recent decision.
Biren said a countrywide survey has found a rise in drug and substance abuse among youths of the state, which was the reason why his government launched a “war on drugs” in 2018. “We have to stay focused on real issues in the state, namely dealing with influx of illegal immigrants, taking up welfare activities for internally displaced people and fighting massive poppy cultivation,” he said. MHA reports say 563 insurgents have been apprehended and 47 insurgents killed along the Indo-Myanmar border between 2015 and 2018.
The CM said biometric recording is necessary before compiling the NRC and the state government has urged the Centre to extend the time for the biometric process by a year in the state. He also said the government will intensify the drive against drugs and illegal poppy cultivation and a joint committee of the Narcotics Control Bureau and Narcotics and Affairs of Border has been set up to survey and destroy poppy plantations. He said the government will be using unmanned air vehicles for surveillance and destruction of poppy plantations.

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