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Business News/ News / India/  Mizoram leaders say no to border fence, want Free Movement Regime with Myanmar to stay — Here's why
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Mizoram leaders say no to border fence, want Free Movement Regime with Myanmar to stay — Here's why

Mizoram Home Minister K Sapdanga said fencing the India-Myanmar border or scrapping the Free Movement Regime is unacceptable for the Zo ethnic people.

The 1,643 km long Indo-Myanmar border (IMB), which passes through Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, currently has FMR and is guarded by Assam Rifles. (AP)Premium
The 1,643 km long Indo-Myanmar border (IMB), which passes through Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, currently has FMR and is guarded by Assam Rifles. (AP)

The Mizoram Assembly adopted a resolution against the central government's decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with the neighbouring country. The FMR allows people living on both sides of the border to travel 16 km into each other's territory without a visa.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced earlier in February that the entire India-Myanmar border would be fenced. On February 8, Shah said that the Centre decided to scrap the India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime to maintain the country's internal security and demographic structure of the northeastern states.

ALSO READ: What comes under India's Free Movement Regime with Myanmar and why was it scrapped? Top points

Before this, in January, Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma maintained that he was opposed to the Free Movement Regime and fencing of the border.

Here's why Mizoram leaders saying yes to FMR and no to border fencing

Lalduhoma said last month that his government and different organisations in the state opposed the Centre's move as Mizos share ethnic ties with the people of the Chin community in Myanmar.

According to reports, over 31,000 people from Myanmar, mostly from the Chin state, have taken refuge in Mizoram following the military coup in the neighbouring country in February 2021.

"Mizos living in different parts of the world dream of reunification", and fencing the present border will amount to approval of the boundary "imposed" by the British, the Mizoram Chief Minister was quoted by PTI as saying.

Meanwhile, Mizoram Home Minister K Sapdanga, who moved the resolution against the Centre's decision on Wednesday, explained that the British demarcated the India-Myanmar border and divided the Zo ethnic people's land into two countries.

"The Zo ethnic people can't accept the India-Myanmar border, which has been imposed on them by the British. They have been dreaming of reunification under one administrative unit someday," the home minister said.

He said fencing the India-Myanmar border or scrapping the FMR, which will mandate the approval of the imposed boundary, is unacceptable for the Zo ethnic people, PTI reported. The minister added that the Mizoram government is yet to receive official intimation about the Centre's plan.

Border fences and 'national security'

Lalduhoma had acknowledged that the idea of scraping the FMR primarily stemmed from cross-border trafficking. He said believes that the smuggling of drugs and other contraband has increased due to it.

Meanwhile, Home Minister K Sapdanga said national security "can't be an excuse" for fencing the India-Myanmar border and lifting the FMR. "If the Centre is so concerned about national security, it should also fence all the international borders that the country shares with neighbouring countries," he said.

He argued that that even during the peak period of insurgency in the northeastern states, the FMR with Myanmar was never questioned.

"I urge the Centre to consider the hardships that will be faced by the Zo ethnic people if the India-Myanmar border is fenced and the FMR is scrapped," Sapdanga said.

Four Indian states — Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh — share a 1,643-km-long international border with Myanmar. Mizoram shares a 510-km-long border with Myanmar's Chin state and the Mizos share ethnic ties with the Chin people.

Mizoram's civil society organisations and student bodies also strongly opposed the Centre's decision to fence the border and lift the FMR.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 29 Feb 2024, 05:28 PM IST
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