Manipur CM thanks PM Modi for suspending Free Movement Regime
Imphal, Feb 8 (IANS) Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Thursday expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders for listening to the voice of the people of the state, and for taking the decision to construct fencing along the entire 1,643-km India-Myanmar border and immediate suspension of the Free Movement Regime (FMR).
Saying that the state government has been giving priority in keeping its people and the state's boundary safe and secure, the Chief Minister maintained that the BJP government, since its formation in 2017, had been working in different ways to check the demographic balance in population growth, drugs trafficking and other concerns like border fencing and uncheck FMR among others.
Manipur has a 398-km border with Myanmar while three other northeastern states have international borders with the northeastern states -- Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km) and Mizoram (510 km).
Informing that one km stretch of fencing through a Hybrid Surveillance System (HSS) is under execution in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, he continued that fencing works covering 20 km in vulnerable areas have also been approved, and the work would start soon.
Regarding the FMR, he reiterated the Home Ministry's decision for immediate suspension, to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India’s northeastern states bordering Myanmar. Singh also lauded the move of the Central government to constitute a high-powered committee for considering the challenges arising from "fast population growth and demographic changes".
He further appreciated Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for announcing it in her interim budget speech, acknowledging what the people wanted.
The Chief Minister further stated that all the positive steps taken up by the Central and the state government are for the betterment of the future generations.
On the state government's "War on Drugs Campaign", he said that the government has not stopped its work of destroying poppy plantation, since the start of the campaign and added that areas of poppy plantation had decreased a lot.
Identification of areas with illegal poppy cultivation had been done through satellite mapping, he said, adding that combined teams of Narcotics and Affairs of Border, Narcotics Control Bureau, state forces and Forest Department are destroying the poppy plantations and the task would be completed by the end of this month. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and several Manipur based organisations including influential Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) hailed the decision of the Centre to fence the India-Myanmar border.
Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma and many leading and influential organisations, including National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah faction (NSCN-IM), Young Mizo Association, the Eastern Naga People's Organisation (ENPO) have, however, opposed both the fencing and the scrapping of FMR.
The FMR allowed citizens residing close to both sides of the border to move 16 km into each other's territory without passport or visa. Lalduhoma had said that the border with Myanmar in Mizoram was "unilaterally imposed" by the British without consulting the people and the Mizo-Zo-Chin community people living on both sides of the border do not accept the boundary.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had said the decision of the Centre to fence the India-Myanmar border needs thorough discussion before implementation.