100-km smart fencing along Myanmar border in the pipeline to boost surveillance: Home Ministry
100-km smart fencing along Myanmar border in the pipeline to boost surveillance

New Delhi (Agency): An advanced smart fencing system of 100 km along the Myanmar border is in the pipeline to strengthen the existing surveillance system, the 2022-23 annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) published last week said.

Unfenced border and unregulated migration from Myanmar have been attributed as some of the factors responsible for the ethnic violence in Manipur that has claimed the lives of at least 175 people since May 3.

The report stated that in 2022, out of the 201 insurgency-related incidents registered in all the northeast States, as many as 137 incidents were registered in Manipur.

“Manipur is affected by the activities of Meitei, Naga, Kuki, Zomi, Hmar insurgent groups. A total of 23 UG [underground] outfits under two conglomerates [United Peoples’ Front [UPF] -8 and Kuki National Organisation [KNO] -15] are under Suspension of Operation [SoO] pact with the Government of India since August 2008,” the report said.

The MHA said that a Free Movement Regime (FMR) exists between India and Myanmar. “Under the FMR, every member of the hill tribes, who is either a citizen of India or a citizen of Myanmar and who is resident of any area within 16 km on either side of the Indo-Myanmar border can cross the border on production of a border pass (one year validity) issued by the competent authority and can stay up to two weeks per visit,” the report said.

The Manipur government has suspended the FMR since 2020, post COVID-19 pandemic. Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said on September 23 that he had urged the MHA to cancel the FMR along the Myanmar border and complete its fencing.

India shares a 1,643-km border with Myanmar which passes through Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km).

“Out of 1,643 km, demarcation of 1,472 km has been completed,” the report said.

It said the construction of fencing for a border length of 10.023 km at Moreh, Manipur has been awarded to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). “Work is in progress and 6.812 km fencing has already been completed. The total construction is scheduled to be completed by 2023,” the report said.

The MHA said the terrain, socio-economic development and historical factors such as language, ethnicity, tribal rivalry, migration, control over local resources and long and porous international borders had resulted in a fragile security situation in the northeastern States. “This has resulted in violence, extortion and diverse demands by various Indian Insurgent Groups [IIGs] which maintain safe havens/camps in neighbouring countries,” it said.

The Assam Rifles, the border guarding force deployed along the Myanmar border, between April-December 2022, apprehended 128 Myanmar nationals, 330 civilians and 140 arms dealers and drug peddlers, the report said.

To curb the illegal and unlawful activities by insurgent groups of the northeastern States, a total of 16 insurgent organisations are declared “unlawful associations” or “terrorist organisations” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Eight of the unlawful groups are from Manipur. (Courtesy: The Hindu)