GUWAHATI: In a bid to curb the rising influx of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling from neighbouring Myanmar, Manipur Chief Minister, N Biren Singh, has initiated discussions on extending the India-Myanmar border fencing by an additional 70 km.
In a post on a popular micro-blogging website, Singh announced, “Held a meeting with the officials of BRO and deliberated the plan to begin construction of an additional 70 km of border fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border. I was joined by Chief Secretary, DGP, and officials from the Home Department.”
The development comes a day after Singh appealed to the Centre to discontinue the “free movement regime” that exists along this border.
The “free movement regime” permits locals living adjacent to the India-Myanmar border to traverse 16 km into each other’s territory without any official documentation. The Chief Minister highlighted the security loophole in the system, noting that security forces, positioned 14-15 km inside Indian territory, may inadvertently allow illegal immigrants to bypass checkpoints.
Earlier on Saturday, reiterating his government’s stance, Singh stated that they have urged the Union Home Ministry to terminate the free movement regime and accelerate the border fencing process. “The Union Home Ministry has taken steps to fence 60 km of the international border in Manipur,” he had told the press, highlighting the state’s commitment to dealing rigorously with the challenges posed by illegal immigration.
This is not the first time when the Chief Minister has requested the Centre to fence the undisputed stretch of the Indo-Myanmar border. Earlier in 2021, Singh, while speaking at the 69th plenary of North Eastern Council (NEC), chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah, Singh had made the request to Shah justifying it saying it will curb illegal immigration part from checking arms smuggling and human trafficking.
Manipur, with its five eastern districts, shares a 400-km border with Myanmar. Alarmingly, less than 10% of this expanse is currently fenced, making it susceptible to illicit activities, particularly drug smuggling.