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Free Movement Regime Along India-Myanmar Border



  Jan 03, 2024

Free Movement Regime Along India-Myanmar Border




Background:

The Indian government’s decision to suspend the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the India-Myanmar border marks a significant shift in border management. The FMR, allowing tribes to travel 16 kilometers into the neighboring country without a visa, was part of India’s “Act East” policy initiated in 2018. This policy aimed to boost local trade and strengthen ties with Southeast Asian neighbors.

Recent Developments:

1. Suspension of FMR: Amidst ethnic conflicts in Manipur, concerns over illegal immigration, drug, and arms trafficking have led to the suspension of the FMR.
2. Impact of Myanmar’s Military Coup: The military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021 has exacerbated the situation, with a surge in tribal Kukis crossing into India, particularly into Manipur and Mizoram. Allegations of their involvement in illegal activities have intensified the need for stricter border control.
3. Visa Requirements: The suspension implies that people traveling between India and Myanmar will now need a visa, a move that marks a departure from the earlier visa-free regime for local tribes.

Fencing the Border:

Porous Border: The India-Myanmar border, spanning 1643 km across Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram, is largely unfenced, contributing to its permeability.
Fencing Initiatives: The government has initiated the fencing of over 300 km of this border. Despite the challenging terrain, including lush forests, the tender process is in an advanced stage, signaling a move towards more secure and monitored borders.

Implications:

1. Security Enhancement: The suspension of the FMR and border fencing are steps towards enhancing security, particularly in sensitive regions like Manipur and Mizoram.
2. Impact on Local Communities: The suspension may affect the local tribes who have traditionally relied on cross-border movement for trade and cultural reasons.
3. Challenges in Implementation: Given the difficult terrain and the socio-cultural dynamics of border areas, implementing these changes will be challenging.

Conclusion:

The suspension of the FMR along the India-Myanmar border reflects India’s effort to balance security concerns with its regional integration policies. While it aims to curb illegal activities and strengthen border security, the impact on local communities and the effectiveness of these measures in addressing the underlying issues remain key considerations.

SRIRAM’s


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