• India
  • Feb 07

India decides to fence entire border with Myanmar

• India has decided to fence the entire India-Myanmar border, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced on February 6.

• The move could virtually put an end to the Free Movement Regime (FMR) prevalent along the porous border.

• Shah said a 10-km stretch of the border in Moreh in Manipur has already been fenced.

• Furthermore, two pilot projects of fencing through a hybrid surveillance system are under execution.

• Myanmar has been witnessing wide-spread violent protests demanding restoration of democracy since the military seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021.

• The Rakhine state and many other regions have witnessed severe fighting between armed ethnic groups and the Myanmarese military since October last year.

• The hostilities between the two sides saw a rapid spike since November in several key Myanmarese towns and regions near the border with India as well, fuelling concerns in New Delhi over the possible ramifications for security of Manipur and Mizoram.

Free Movement Regime

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

• Under the Free Movement Regime (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 border can cross over on production of a border pass with one year validity and can stay up to two weeks per visit.

• It was implemented as part of India’s Act East policy.

• Fencing along the border has been a persistent demand of the Imphal Valley-based Meitei groups which have been alleging that tribal militants often enter into India through the porous border.

• The Meitei groups also allege that narcotics are being smuggled into India taking advantage of the unfenced international border.

• In September 2023, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh urged the Centre to end the FMR. The state government argued that insurgents use the FMR to further their activities.

• Manipur shares 398 km of porous border with Myanmar and only about 10 km has been fenced so far. In July last year, the state government shared data that around 700 illegal immigrants entered the state.

• Mizoram has seen an influx of anti-Junta rebels in thousands since the military coup in Myanmar on February 1, 2021. According to government estimates, several thousand refugees are living in different parts of Mizoram since the coup. Mizoram shares a 510-km-long porous border with Myanmar.

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