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Business News/ News / India/  What comes under India's Free Movement Regime with Myanmar and why was it scrapped? Top points
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What comes under India's Free Movement Regime with Myanmar and why was it scrapped? Top points

The Indian government has decided to scrap the India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime (FMR) to maintain internal security and protect the demographic structure of northeastern states.

The Indian government has decided to immediately suspend the Free Movement Regime for people living along the India-Myanmar border (File Photo) (HT_PRINT)Premium
The Indian government has decided to immediately suspend the Free Movement Regime for people living along the India-Myanmar border (File Photo) (HT_PRINT)

The central government has decided to scrap the India-Myanmar Free Movement Regime (FMR), announced Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday.  

While announcing the discontinuation of FMR, Amit Shah said that the decision was taken to maintain the country's internal security and demographic structure of the northeastern states. The announcement is an attempt to avoid the spillover effect of the ongoing Myanmar crisis on India.

Also Read: Ghost of partition past lingers as Delhi mulls fencing British era India-Myanmar border

As Myanmar, currently under military dictatorship, is facing the rebellion of ethnic armed groups and pro-democracy forces, there has been a significant influx of people from Myanmar to bordering Indian states.

What is Free Movement Regime between India and Myanmar?

The FMR came into existence in 2018 as a part of India's Act East policy. It allows cross-border movement up to 16 km without a visa. The agreement was brought to facilitate local border trade, improve access to education and healthcare for border residents, and strengthen diplomatic ties. Under the agreement, individuals were also allowed to up to two weeks in the neighbouring country by getting a one-year border pass.

Why was FMR scrapped?

In a post on X, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the FMR was abolished between India and Myanmar to safeguard the internal security of the nation and preserve the demographic composition of India's North Eastern states that share borders with Myanmar. 

"It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's resolve to secure our borders. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided that the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar be scrapped to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India's North Eastern States bordering Myanmar. Since the Ministry of External Affairs is currently in the process of scrapping it, MHA has recommended the immediate suspension of the FMR," Shah said in the post.

Indian states sharing a border with Myanmar

India and Myanmar share a 1,643-km-long porous border which is shared by multiple North Indian states like Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh. Currently, all these states come under FMR.

Manipur shares approximately 390 km of a porous border with Myanmar, with only about 10 km fenced as of now. Mizoram has a porous border spanning 510 kilometres with Myanmar. Arunachal Pradesh shares a 520-kilometer520-kilometre border with Myanmar, whereas Nagaland's border with the country spans 215 kilometres.

Fencing of India-Myanmar border

Earlier the Home Minister had announced the fencing of the entire 1643 kilometres of India-Myanmar the border. Amit Shah had also announced the construction of a patrol pathway along the India-Myanmar border to enhance surveillance capabilities. "Additionally, fence works covering approx 20 km in Manipur have also been approved, and the work will start soon," Shah stated further.

"We plan to terminate the FMR along the Indo-Myanmar border shortly. We aim to install fencing along the entire border, a project expected to be completed in the next four-and-a-half years. Individuals entering will be required to obtain a visa," stated an official privy to the plan being prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

One of the major reasons behind scrapping FMR was to curb "illegal immigration, drug and arms trafficking in the region.

The situation worsened after the military coup in Myanmar in 2021. Since then, a considerable number of Myanmar's tribal population crossed into India, particularly Manipur and Mizoram and remained there illegally.

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Published: 08 Feb 2024, 11:58 PM IST
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