Manipur govt suspends ‘Free Movement Regime’ along Myanmar border, asks Center to close it permanently

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

Imphal, September 23 (IANS): Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Saturday said that the ‘Free Movement Regime (FMR)” with Myanmar which allows people on either side to travel up to 16 km inside of either country is suspended at the moment and that the Centre has been requested to permanently close the FMR with the state.

Four northeastern states – Manipur (398 km), Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km) and Mizoram (510 km) – share a 1,643-km unfenced border with Myanmar and there are 16 km FMR along these international borders.

Highlighting some core issues to be taken up on priority basis by the state government, the Chief Minister highlighted that for the past four months, Manipur is in an unfortunate situation, however, with full support of the Centre, cooperation of all sections including media, state government machineries, MLAs and Ministers, for the past one month there has been a pause in gunfights and other violent incidents.

The government has resolved to continue the functioning of the cabinet sub-committee which was formed with Minister Letpao Haokip as the chairmen to check and identify illegal immigrants coming from outside, with an objective to protect and safeguard the future generation of the indigenous people, he told the media.

Noting that biometric recording is necessary as preliminary to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Singh said that the state government has urged the Centre to extend the time for Biometric process by a year in the state.

Biometric recording of Myanmarese nations, residing in Manipur, is the first priority, he added.

Explaining the importance of border fencing along Myanmar border to check influx of illegal immigrants, the Chief Minister said work for fencing along the international boundary by identifying some vulnerable stretches have been awarded to the Border Road Organisation (BRO).

Rehabilitation and resettling of displaced persons at their original place, is another priority the Chief Minister said, adding that around 700 displaced families in Torbung, some in Sugunu have been resettled in their original localities.

The government has to work for the rehabilitation, resettling of displaced persons, construction of prefabricated houses, deployment of security forces in vulnerable areas, but if there is unrest and turmoil in Imphal, how is the government supposed to take up all these works, the Chief Minister asked.

Singh said that the break in gun fights witnessed over the past one month or so is because of proper deployment of security forces in vulnerable areas.

Security forces have also started entering Churachandpur on top of those already there with the support and cooperation of the people of the town, he said, adding that 25 persons have been arrested so far by the police in the district.

Altogether seven cases have been charge-sheeted.

Another serious issue is the disappearance of youth below 30 years from the society, the Chief Minister said highlighting the report of “Magnitude of Substance use in India 2019” published by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Stating that the finding highlighted in the report regarding prevalence of use of alcohol, ganja and other drugs in the State is quite alarming and concerning, Singh expressed the need to strengthen the ‘War against Drugs’ campaign in the state.

The Chief Minister said a joint committee of the Narcotics Control Bureau and Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) has been formed to survey and destroy poppy plantations.

The Chief Minister said during the past two three months, certain splinter groups who don police uniforms and are armed have created an unrest in the society with a series of unwanted incidents like kidnapping, shooting of persons, etc.

The Chief Minister highlighted a few incidents including kidnapping of an engineer from Tingri by unknown armed persons in combat dress, kidnapping of a Kom individual, placing of grenade in at residence for extortion, among others.

The Chief Minister further lamented distrust and disrespect shown to the government by a section of the society and said that it is the government with the support of the public that is facing all the issues in the state.

He sought trust in the government and said that the government stands firmly with the commitment against the breaking of Manipur.

Speaking against the spread of fake news which helps create unrest in the state, he said “we should be clear on who we are fighting against instead of turning against each other.”

“We should be very clear that we are fighting against forces which are trying to disintegrate and break Manipur,” he said lamenting that certain organisations formed in localities seem to be dictating unrest.

The Chief Minister further said that mobile service provider Airtel’s alleged leakage of internet service in Churachandpur has been found to be true and two employees have been subsequently suspended.

Singh appealed for all to join hands and stand unitedly including all indigenous communities including the Kukis to rebuild the old peaceful Manipur and resettling the displaced families.