Manipur’s Chief Minister, N. Biren Singh, held a meeting on Sunday with officials from the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and other key state figures to discuss plans for extending the border fencing along the India-Myanmar border by an additional 70 kilometers. In a social media post, the chief minister emphasized that this expansion was vital to combat cross-border issues like illegal immigration and drug smuggling.
This meeting came on the heels of the chief minister’s appeal to the Central government to “permanently close” the Free Movement Regime (FMR), which permits individuals from both sides of the border to travel up to 16 kilometers into each other’s territory.
In his tweet, Chief Minister Biren Singh stated, “Held a meeting with BRO officials to deliberate on the initiation of construction for an additional 70 km of border fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border. In light of the increasing instances of illegal immigration and drug smuggling from our neighboring country, safeguarding our porous borders has become an urgent necessity.”
Currently, less than 10% of Manipur’s 400-kilometer international border with Myanmar is fenced, leaving the region susceptible to cross-border illegal activities. Due to the challenging terrain and other factors, fully fencing the entire border is a complex task. However, it is believed that focusing on areas where illegal activities are most prevalent can be achieved more readily.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Biren Singh expressed his concerns about the FMR, which has made it difficult to control the illegal influx from Myanmar. The Union home minister has already sanctioned this, and I’ve been informed that BRO has been issued a work order for approximately 60 kilometers of border fencing, pending confirmation.”
Additionally, the internet ban imposed in the state as a precautionary measure during ethnic violence has been lifted for the public, beginning Saturday. The chief minister also mentioned the deployment of an adequate number of paramilitary forces by the central government in vulnerable areas, contributing to the absence of unwanted incidents in the past month.
The Free Movement Regime, part of India’s Act East Policy, initially aimed to facilitate trade, business, and the movement of ethnically similar communities between both countries. However, it has faced criticism for inadvertently enabling cross-border illegal activities.